Alternative Metal Forming Using Laser Engineered Net Shaping
Small Business Information
13170 B Central Avenue SE, Suite 310, Albuquerqu, NM, 87123
Mr. David M. Keicher
Mr. Thomas A. Swann
Abstract50 Alternative Metal Forming Using Laser Engineered Net Shaping--Optomec Design Company, 13170 B Central Avenue SE, Suite 310, Albuquerque, NM 87123-3032; (505) 343-9139 Mr. David M. Keicher, Principal Investigator Mr. Thomas A. Swann, Business Official DOE Grant No. DE-FG03-97ER82448 Amount: $74,777 Energy intensive metal forming operations are among the most common steps in manufacturing consumer goods and military hardware. Rapid prototyping and manufacturing technologies have revolutionized the approach to solving manufacturing problems; however, these processes are limited to fabricating parts from plastics, thermoplastics, and powder-coated metal particles. To address these limitations, Sandia National Laboratory has developed the Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENSTM) process, which is a solid freeform fabrication process that can produce functional metallic hardware having unique material properties directly from a computer-aided design solid model. The existing LENSTM process, however, has limitations associated with accuracy and surface finish because it requires additional processing steps after the part is fabricated to achieve a final finished part. A more desirable solution would be to apply automated finishing techniques during the fabrication process within a single processing platform to achieve the desired finished part. To achieve this goal, several optical methods are to be investigated during this project. The feasibility of using laser polishing and micromachining processes will be examined. Since these processes are capable of using the same laser used to fabricate the metal object, they can be readily integrated into a single process platform. During Phase I of this project, the best process or combination of processes for improving surface finish and accuracy will be identified. These techniques will be applied to surfaces with varying orientation. During Phase II, the best process will be integrated into a LENSTM system and optimized to produce net shape metallic hardware that is both accurate and possesses good surface finish directly from a single processing platform. Further characterization and optimization will be performed to achieve the best process. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: The ability to fabricate finished metallic hardware from powdered raw materials will reduce the inventory required to maintain both commercial and military equipment. Successful development of LENSTM process for commercial applications will significantly reduce the time from conception to production and provide U.S. industry with a significant advantage over overseas competition. The most immediate impact of the LENSTM process is anticipated within the $100 billion per year tooling industry.
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