3D laser metal deposition in an additive manufacturing process chain
Laser metal deposition (LMD) is an established technology for two-dimensional surface coatings. It offers high deposition rates, high material flexibility and the possibility to deposit material on existing components. Due to these features, LMD has been increasingly applied for additive manufacturing of 3D structures in recent years. Compared to previous coating applications, additive manufacturing of 3D structures leads to new challenges regarding LMD process knowledge. In this paper, the process chain for LMD as additive manufacturing technology is described. The experiments are conducted using titanium alloy Ti-6Al-4V and Inconel 718. Only the LMD nozzle is used to create a shielding gas atmosphere. This ensures high geometric flexibility, although issues with the restricted size and quality of the shielding gas atmosphere arise. In the first step, the influence of process parameters on the geometric dimensions of single weld beads is analysed based on design of experiments and statistical evaluation. The results allow adjusting the weld bead dimensions for the specific component geometry. In the second step, features of a 3D build-up strategy for high dimensional accuracy are discussed. For this purpose, cylindrical specimens consisting of more than 200 layers are built. Welding of multiple layers on top of each other leads to heat accumulation. Consequently, the molten pool is increased and weld bead height and width are changed. Furthermore, cooling times are prolonged. The build-up strategy has to be adjusted to deal with these issues. Process parameters, travel paths and cooling breaks between layers are varied. Temperatures during the deposition process are measured with pyrometer and thermography. The specimens are analysed with metallurgic cross sections, x-ray and tensile test. Tensile tests show that mechanical properties in the as-deposited condition are close to wrought material. The results are used to design guidelines for a LMD build-up strategy for complex components. As reality test, parts of a gas turbine burner and a turbine blade are manufactured according to these build-up strategies. Build-up rate, net-shape and microstructure of these demonstrative components are evaluated. This paper is relevant for industrial or scientific users of LMD, who are interested in the feasibility of this technology for additive manufacturing.