The technological progress demands continuously higher load capacity concerning higher temperatures, corrosion and wear from components. Laser cladding offers various approaches to these problems. With resistant coatings, it is possible to lengthen the service life of components and tools. Additionally, damaged parts or worn surfaces can be repaired by applying a new layer of material. Such a revised component is in no way inferior to a new one; it can even be provided with augmented properties by means of suitable repair materials. Finally, the generative employment offers another potential application: Forms or tools can be modified and thus adapted to current development requirements.
In comparison to conventional methods, laser cladding is particularly characterized by low heat input and warpage, high precision of material application, very good reproducibility and a large range of combinable base and additional materials. In particular, modern processes in the fields of tool and mold making, automotive engineering, aviation industry or energy generation benefit from these advantages.
The scientific research concerning laser cladding are implemented at the Fraunhofer IPK with a latest generation laser system. It enables the precise processing of delicate parts. Simultaneously, the laser cell offers space for large components up to the length of two meters. The processing of complex, three-dimensional surfaces is also possible by its flexible positioning with a turn-tilt table. The scientists have experiences with a diverse range of materials, like steels, nickel-base alloys as well as lightweight materials like titanium.
The aim of the project »KombiPro« is a processing chain consisting of the generative manufacturing processes Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Laser Cladding (LPA) as well as of necessary post-manufacturing processes like particle beams and flow grinding. For the two generative manufacturing processes, the nickel-based superalloy René 80 has been qualified as suitable material. Subsequent to the qualification , the material and component characteristics attainable by both manufacturing processes have been determined.
In order to demonstrate and document the efficiency of this processing chain, a turbine blade has been designed, constructively adapted to the manufacturing process and generatively manufactured along the developed chain. Compared to the entire manufacturing process by use of SLM, a doubling of the buildup rate could be achieved with the combined process chain. The target groups of this manufacturing chain are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and particularly service contractors of Rapid Tooling and Rapid Manufacturing as well as suppliers of the automotive and turbomachinery industry and the mechanical engineering in general.