Powder flux regulation in the laser material deposition process
In the present research work a powder flux regulation system has been designed, developed and validated with the aim of improving the Laser Material Deposition (LMD) process. In this process, the amount of deposited material per substrate surface unit area depends on the real feed rate of the nozzle. Therefore, a regulation system based on a solenoid valve has been installed at the nozzle entrance in order to control the powder flux. The powder flux control has been performed based on the machine real feed rate, which is compared with the programmed feed rate. An instantaneous velocity error is calculated and the powder flow is controlled as a function of this variation using Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) signals. Thereby, in zones where the Laser Material Deposition machine reduces the feed rate due to a trajectory change, powder accumulation can be avoided and the generated clads would present a homogeneous shape.