July 14, 2014
Albuquerque, N.M.-based Optomec has announced that its LENS® print engine for metal components has been adopted by the Center for Remanufacturing and Resources Recovery (C3R®) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Rochester, N.Y.
The system at C3R will retrofit 3-D metal printing capabilities within a conventional CNC vertical milling machine, enabling a hybrid additive/subtractive manufacturing workcell. The hybrid manufacturing workcell will be used for both research and commercial production in the remanufacture and repair of high-value metallic components used by the transportation, medical, and aviation industries.
Remanufacturing involves restoring worn or damaged in-service parts to extend their useful life. The metal printing process can either fully build 3-D metal parts when replacement parts are no longer available, or selectively and precisely add materials onto an existing metal component of almost any 3-D shape, making it also suitable for performing repair/remanufacturing operations.
The process employs blown-powder technology to add metal directly onto an existing metal part. The print head delivers powdered metal and a highly focused laser beam to the damaged part area, enabling repair of components in a way not possible with traditional repair methods such as welding. The low heat input of the process creates a lower HAZ of the part under repair to reduce the chance of distortion.