Taking the promise of Additive Layer Manufacturing to a new level

20 December 2012

As Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) is increasingly considered for the production of aerospace parts and components, the characterization of metals that undergo such processes is at an early stage – and its better understanding will be a key to the successful application of ALM in this industry sector.

EADS Innovation Works will focus on this important subject following a new cooperative agreement that will locate an ALM machine at its Ottobrunn laboratories near Munich, Germany – creating research opportunities for metal characterization across a full range of alloys for use in Additive Layer Manufacturing.

The agreement signed with SLM Solutions GmbH of Lübeck, Germany, will provide one of the company’s SLM® 125 selective laser melting systems for EADS Innovation Works on favorable business terms. As part of the cooperation, EADS Innovation Works will support SLM with research and development services.

SLM Solutions’ SLM® 125 machine uses the laser powder bed technology for Additive Layer Manufacturing, and is well-tailored for research applications. The build chamber is purposely small for the creation of test samples: it is dimensioned at 125 mm in each direction, with the possibility for down-sizing to 50 mm.

“This system is perfectly suited for material investigation and therefore it’s complementary to the other ALM machines within EADS Innovation Works at Filton in the U.K., which are sized with larger build chambers for production-type applications and larger components,” said Katja Schmidtke, a research engineer in EADS Innovation Works’ Technical Capability Center 2 (TCC 2) for metallic technologies and surface engineering.

Schmidtke explained that since few metallic alloys currently are characterized for Additive Layer Manufacturing from the properties viewpoint, the EADS Innovation Works/SLM Solutions cooperation will provide valuable research opportunities. It will cover established, currently-used powders based on aluminum, titanium and nickel alloys, along with new materials like Invar or platinum, and other metal solutions.

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Signing the Additive Layer Manufacturing cooperative agreement are (from left to right):. Kaj Berggreen, a product specialist at SLM Solutions; EADS Innovation Works head Yann Barbaux; Katja Schmidtke, a research engineer in EADS Innovation Works’ TCC 2; Claudio Dalle Donne, the head of EADS Innovation Works’ TCC 2; Hans J. Ihde, the CEO of SLM Solutions; and Henner Schöneborn, SLM Solutions’ Technical Director.