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Additive manufacturing (AM) is acknowledged to afford wide ranging benefits, such as unprecedented freedom in geometric complexity, new design flexibility, dramatic reduction in processing time & cost, minimal material wastage, reduced energy use, shorter time to market. Consequently, the global industry has realized that layer-by-layer AM processing represents a paradigm shift in the way components are produced and is poised to have an extraordinary impact on manufacturing. As a result, interest in AM techniques has grown rapidly, with target applications swiftly progressing from rapid prototyping to production of end-use components. The actual deployment of AM is stunted by persisting challenges like high variability, lack of closed-loop control, ability to address only limited materials. Among the various AM approaches, Laser Beam Additive Manufacturing with wire (LBAMw) is a particularly promising pathway for next generation industrial production, since it not only combines the generic rewards of AM with the versatility of the laser as an energy source and speed & cost advantages that wire-based techniques possess over powder-based methods, but is also potentially amenable to superior process control. University West has been at the forefront of LBAMw automation research for over a decade. It now seeks to utilize its vast experience in the field, as well as the considerable strengths and competencies in the allied areas of modelling & simulation of thermal history, process monitoring as well as materials technology developed over time, to make the LBAMw technology more robust and reliable. Two distinct, yet both extremely challenging, material systems are targeted - the aerospace relevant alloy Ti-6Al-4V and duplex stainless steel alloy DSS 2205, which is completely novel from an AM perspective. Aside from being candidates for immediate applications, these materials will showcase the versatility of the LBAMw technique and catalyze its industrial proliferation.
2017 - 2021