Tue, 14 September, 2021
TWI have recently installed and integrated a novel wire-feed head for wire Laser Metal Deposition (w-LMD) with their KUKA robot cell in Yorkshire. The head was designed and developed by Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies (HMT) as part of InnovateUK project ‘FastWireAM’.
Wire Laser Metal Deposition (w-LMD) is an additive manufacturing technique, which uses a laser beam to generate a molten pool of material onto a substrate and feeds wire feedstock, either coaxially or through a side-feed, into the melt pool to deposit a continuous bead of material. This deposited material can be built up layer-by-layer to manufacture a 3D geometry.
The unique design of the head installed at TWI gives it the simplicity of a side-feed set-up, whilst still allowing for stable effective-omnidirectional deposition of material. The system can also achieve a deposition rate of between 0.5-4kg/hr depending on the material and geometry requirements.
Current work is focused on evaluating the stability and flexibility of the deposition process and developing a process window for a novel low alloy tool steel feedstock developed by Epoch Wires.
The w-LMD system has many potential applications including:
TWI have been working closely with FastWireAM partners, HMT and Epoch Wires, to demonstrate the capabilities and industrial application of the w-LMD technique. For example, by using w-LMD to deposit a novel low alloy tool steel wire (developed by Epoch Wires) as a coating for an automotive tool die provided by potential end-user DGWeld.