Additive Manufacturing of Large Components Using LPBF

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Novel LPBF machine concept for Additive Manufacturing of large components Conventional systems for Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) are limited in size. When increasing the usable build-volume, the challenge is to realize a homogeneous shielding gas flow over the entire powder bed. In addition, an increase in productivity is necessary in order to be able to use such systems economically.

To meet these challenges, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT has developed a novel LPBF machine concept (size: 1000 x 800 x 350 mm³) for the production of large components as part of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project futureAM. This concept includes a processing head which is movable via linear axes. The processing head features a local inert gas system, thus creating process conditions which are easy to control. The latest development stage includes a processing head with a five-scanner system to ensure sufficient productivity of the process.

For the proof of concept, Rolls Royce Ltd. provided an oil transfer coupling of an aircraft engine as a demonstrator and redesigned it for additive manufacturing. With the help of the new machine concept, it was possible to manufacture the demonstrator with a bounding box of Ø620 x H280 mm³. The monolithically manufactured component thus replaces an assembly of originally 44 individual parts and was presented to the public for the first time at formnext Connect 2020.