VIDEO: Is Wirefeed the Future of Selective Laser Sintering?
James Anderton posted on December 19, 2016 |
Wirefeed reduces cost, increases deposition versus metal powder additive manufacturing, says expert.

In metal additive manufacturing, selective laser sintering (SLS) is the most commonly used process, compounding metal powder to create parts. However, could wirefeed be a more reliable method?

In the video above we talk about new techniques in the realm of additive manufacturing with Peter Gratschmayr, senior sales engineer at MWES Engineered Systems.

“The twist in our manufacturing process, is that we’re using wire instead of powder,” said Gratschmayr. “The idea is that we can get a much higher deposition rate, up to 30lbs/hr, and our cost is about 1/20th the cost of powder.”

Wirefeed has a greater structural integrity, Gratschmayr explains, as wire is created to a very tight tolerance. Lasers are used to deform the wire enough to create a good fusion of material, without changing the thickness or shape of the wire.

“We can make parts that have 350 to 400 layers of material on them and get good geometric tolerances,” Gratschmayr added.

“Because the capability of the material’s structure is really well controlled as we’re putting it onto the component, we were able to start making 3D parts with very fine laser control and heat saturation. We actually have a couple of components we’re working on right now that have 1,200 to 1,500 layers.”

Proximity to net shape is dependent on the part, Gratschmayr said, but it’s significantly less than if one were to start with a billet, and closer to what one would be with a casting. Five to 10 percent of material is cut away to create a component like the small propeller seen in the video above.

Even for significantly larger and heavier parts, material removal rates would still be quite low.

“There would of course be more machining necessary for that component, but our percentages would still be pretty equivalent to casting,” Gratschmayr said.

For more information about wirefeed additive manufacturing, watch the video above and visit the MWES Engineered Systems website

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