June 22, 2022

Improving the quality of the laser metal deposition process – Metrology and Quality News

The Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) process is exploited by more and more applications, in particular in the aerospace, space and automotive industry. This is due to its advantages over powder bed-based additive manufacturing (AM) technologies, such as laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF). These advantages relate to the maximum size of rooms that can be built, the construction of existing rooms, as well as higher build rates at lower cost. However, broader industrial applications are still hampered due to issues with part traceability and process stability.

Overcoming some of these obstacles is the goal of the BigDataLMD project. As part of the project, a new quality assurance tool will be developed for the Siemens IIoT MindSphere platform that will enable the collection and analysis of a multitude of quality-relevant datasets. By collecting this data, the understanding of the influences of specific parameters, such as ambient atmosphere, powder properties and process parameters, and its interdependencies, will be analyzed. This will lead to measures to improve the stability of the LMD process.

To collect all relevant process information, additional sensors (e.g. a CLAMIR infrared camera for weld pool monitoring and a remote distance sensor) will be implemented in an LMD machine from BeAM at the Fraunhofer IAPT in Hamburg.

One of the challenges of the project is the connection of machine and sensors in the Siemens MindSphere. This will allow for better interpretation of the large datasets that will be generated. Therefore, special attention is paid to the development of appropriate edge gateways that pre-process quality data in real time and only store relevant information in the MindSphere.

The consortium has been carefully formed by Fraunhofer IAPT and Siemens Digital Industries, with each consortium partner bringing specific expertise that will contribute to the success of the project. The Fraunhofer IAPT has several years of expertise in LMD processes and data analysis, while Siemens Digital Industries, as a leading company in the field of automation and digitization, will bring its expertise in controllers of machines and machine connectivity. Precitec, NIT and BeAM will equip Fraunhofer IAPT’s BeAM Modulo 400 LMD machine with special sensor capabilities that will improve data collection capabilities compared to the current state of the art. In addition, MT Aerospace, Safran and Ariane will bring their LMD expertise to the project and contribute to project management, so that tangible benefits can be obtained by the industry. The project is funded by the partners and is expected to end in mid-2023.

For more information: www.iapt.fraunhofer.de

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