We are investigating and demonstrating the capability of a wire-laser system to fabricate near net shaped additively manufactured components.

  • DatesMay 2016 - February 2017
  • SponsorEPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser Based Production 
  • Funded£52,000
  • PartnersHeriot Watt University

Wire-laser additive manufacturing (WLAM) is a technology in which 3D components are built by continuously feeding a wire into a melt pool generated by a laser beam. This  process enables costs and time saving in comparison with traditional methods, which include either precision castings or machining from oversized forgings, through substantially reduced material waste and lead times Fully dense components can be produced at high deposition rate. The high power density and flexibility of lasers enables sufficient control to build medium to small features with near-net shape characteristics, thus enabling further cost savings as well as increased design freedom.

Impact and findings

The quality of the part is affected by the process dynamics, which consist of the laser-material interaction and wire transfer mode. Good process control is required to ensure a stable deposition along the building path and predictable characteristics of the deposit. Two different droplet transfer modes were explored, one using gravity and the other surface tension  to deposit metal. The conduction regime provided better process control and more stable deposition. One of the most important benefits of using a laser is the ability to  independently control the height or width of deposited layers, which is mainly determined by the beam size, power density and wire feeding rate.