The service life of technical components and tools is determined to a large extent by their resistance to corrosion and wear. Particularly abrasive wear leads to premature tool failure or loss of function. Although in most cases only the tool surface is affected by wear, the entire component is normally replaced. The economic damage attributable to wear is estimated at up to seven percent of the gross national product and ten percent of primary energy consumption for the entire Federal Republic of Germany. Therefore, from an economic point of view, it is imperative to reduce the wear of tools and extend their service life and increase their quantity.
The aim of the "LMD Hybrid" research project is to prolong the service life of thermally and abrasively stressed forming tools by up to ten percent. This is to be achieved by wear-protection coatings consisting of titanium carbide-reinforced steels (TiC). The protective coatings are produced by a combination of wire- and powder-based laser metal deposition (LMD-w+p). In the "LMD Hybrid" research project, the Fraunhofer IPT and its partners are qualifying an LMD-w+p process for the production of graded TiC-reinforced coatings.
For this purpose, the group is first fundamentally determining suitable composition and grading of the material by running appropriate simulations and characterizations. Subsequently, they will ensure that the LMD-w+p process can be reliably transferred to free-form surfaces of real tools by developing a process-related CAM path planning software.
During the project, the Fraunhofer IPT is developing the LMD-w+p process for the production of the TiC-reinforced steels in collaboration with the project partners. In addition, the team is also manufacturing the samples for the material development.
In parallel, the Aachen researchers are developing a CAM strategy. The knowledge gained will then be used to coat demonstrator tools at the Fraunhofer IPT and to validate the hybrid gradient coatings at the industrial partners.
The institute will carry out basic experiments on the LMD-w+p process and on the coating of the demonstrator tools with TiC-reinforced tool steels using a 5-axis machining center GX1000-5T-LOB from the machine manufacturer Alzmetall. A machining head for LMD-w+p is integrated into the system. This head makes it possible not only to run preliminary experiments for process development and material characterization out, but also to apply the 3D coatings towards the end of the project. The process will be developed in close cooperation with experts in materials development and simulation. For practical experiments, a web planning tool will be used, which will also be developed in the project.
The project results are expected to lead to extended tool life and, thus, to savings in manufacturing costs and material. With the combined LMD-w+d process, the surfaces of highly stressed tools can be repaired in such a way that the industry can save on costs and resources significantly. But the process can also be used to open up other, expanded or completely new fields of application for the materials. The software for analysis, simulation and path planning developed by the partners in the project is to be designed in such a way that it can be commercially exploited and transferred to other applications at a later date.
This project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) as part of the AiF program for the promotion of joint industrial research (IGF).