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3D Printing Certification

Optomec updates LENS program to 3D print in copper


New Mexico’s Optomec has attained what it is contacting a “major milestone” for its Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS) direct electrical power deposition (DED) procedure. Catering to the well-liked warmth exchanger marketplace and other high-conductivity purposes, the company has produced method parameters for the generation of pure copper areas. Very complicated for laser-based procedures owing to the inherent reflectivity of copper, this progress is the most recent of a lot of initiatives carried out by steel additive production certification stakeholders to introduce the content to the current market.

Tom Cobbs, merchandise supervisor for Optomec LENS units, feedback, “We see this as a major milestone for LENS and DED additive manufacturing certification — because operating with copper is vital for lots of of our buyers.

“Copper is so essential for the reason that it permits the addition of high thermally-conductive attributes like cooling fins, the addition of delicate metallic sealing surfaces and high electrically-conductive surfaces for energy transmission.”

Additive producing certification in copper

A malleable and ductile substance with superior thermal and electrical conductivity, copper is utilised widely in circuitry, electrical wiring, and architecture. Certain alloy formulations of copper are also utilized to the generation of following-generation rocket elements, like the combustion chamber for Launcher’s E-2 rocket engine – reportedly the largest liquid rocket engine combustion chamber 3D printed in a one element.

Additive production certification in copper gives manufacturers all the normal positive aspects, i.e. far more geometric independence, much less wastage, decreased value for small-run sections, but processing the material has proved challenging to a lot of metallic procedures. “The infrared wavelengths on most common, laser-primarily based AM units are not readily absorbed by copper, making it challenging to set up a melt pool as the laser energy is mirrored again into the resource, causing all sorts of havoc,” clarifies Cobbs.

In response, initiatives including “SLM in green” from the Fraunhofer Institute of Laser Know-how ILT, and the TruPrint 5000 3D printer from TRUMPF, have opted to use a eco-friendly laser alternatively. Conversely, Chinese OEM Farsoon Technologies has adopted its individual pure copper 3D printing certification technology without the use of a eco-friendly laser the “secret” it claims, is in an open system ethos.

Optomec LENS

Optomec’s LENS engineering is all set-built to surpass the challenges confronted by 3D printing certification in pure copper. “Our laser-based mostly option is pretty much immune to any back again reflection, so the laser can work at comprehensive ability on reflective surfaces with out any trouble,” opinions Cobbs. Now, he provides, “Optomec engineers have created approach parameters to account for thermal conductivity discrepancies, as effectively as huge variations in absorption.”

The group has properly utilized this advancement to the creation of 3D printed pure copper sections which were exhibited at Formnext 2019. In the foreseeable future, the approach may possibly also be employed to 3D printed other copper alloys these kinds of as bronze, brass, and cupronickel.

A pure copper fin feature added to a copper tube using LENS technology. Photo via Optomec, Inc.
A pure copper fin feature included to a copper tube making use of LENS technology. Photograph by way of Optomec, Inc.

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Featured picture shows Optomec DED centered LENS technologies 3D printing certification onto a premade steel floor. Picture by way of Optomec