International Cooperation Project on Additive Manufacturing
In October, an international cooperation project for laser-based processing of additively manufactured metal components was launched. Together with the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA), scientists from BIAS (Bremen Institut für angewandte Strahltechnik, Bremen Institute for Applied Beam Technology) are working on a deeper understanding of the mechanisms at work and on a model for laser-based surface smoothing. The project is intended to increase the surface quality of additively manufactured components with a laser polishing process and hence improve mechanical component properties and service life. The US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) will fund the three-year project during which a regular exchange of scientists is planned.
According to BIAS, one of the biggest challenges in additive manufacturing is to reduce surface roughness resulting from the adherence of molten metal powder particles to the surface of the component. This surface roughness would lead to premature fatigue in components subject to dynamic loads. Avoiding this will necessitate post-processing to smoothen the surface. This is usually done with ablative chemical or mechanical processes that are very costly and sometimes lead to fluctuating results. In future, laser-based polishing processes could be used for more efficient surface smoothing. However, the effects of such polishing on the surface of additively manufactured components and their influence on fatigue strength are not yet fully understood. The international research team will investigate this over the coming three years.