Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) is one of the most well-known Additive Manufacturing processes. In LPBF, a laser beam selectively melts powder in a powder bed, thereby generating a cross-sectional area. A component is then built as several melting tracks are strung together in a micro-welding process. When several of these layers are fused together, a three-dimensional component is created. Since the layers are extremely thin – only 0.04 mm – very complex components can be produced with high resolution.
Development of the perfect LPBF process
The LPBF process knows few limits and can be used to produce virtually any desired geometrical shape. However, the process is currently still rather slow and expensive – thus, there is still considerable potential for optimization. At Fraunhofer IPT we do not look at the processes in isolation, but within the entire process chain. Since we cooperate closely with experts in various production technologies, we are able to identify the optimal process chain even before the LPBF process begins. This interdisciplinary cooperation also guarantees that LPBF is seamlessly integrated into existing process chains at the customer's site.
Integration of the LPBF in hybrid production process chains
Often, LPBF alone not only costs too much, but also needs too much time to construct a component – thus, it cannot be considered as a worthwhile alternative to conventional manufacturing processes. However, this does not have to be the case. The key is so-called »hybrid processes«. At Fraunhofer IPT, we understand a hybrid process as one that can additively build structures by applying material onto previously existing semi-finished products. These semi-finished products can be simple plates, forgings, castings, or even components already machined by milling, turning, electrochemical machining (ECM) or similar. Hybrid manufacturing processes can save process time and costs, on the one hand, and are ideally suited for repairing components, on the other. Hybrid manufacturing extends the range of applications of LPBF far beyond the production of new parts and is an essential component for using the LPBF process in an industrial context while covering costs.
Our services at a glance
- Development of customer-specific Additive Manufacturing processes
- Process development for industrial components
- Design of (hybrid) process chains for LPBF
- Feasibility studies for LPBF production
- Assessment of industrial components
- Development and production of prototypes
- Integration of the processes into industrial series production