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Laser Engineered Net Shaping™

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Processing Blade

Sandia National Laboratories has developed a new technology to fabricate three-dimensional metallic components directly from CAD solid models. This process, called Laser Engineered Net ShapingT (LENSŪ), exhibits enormous potential to revolutionize the way in which metal parts, such as complex prototypes, tooling, and small-lot production items, are produced.

The process fabricates metal parts directly from the Computer Aided Design (CAD) solid models using a metal powder injected into a molten pool created by a focused, high-powered laser beam.

Simultaneously, the substrate on which the deposition is occurring is scanned under the beam/powder interaction zone to fabricate the desired cross-sectional geometry. Consecutive layers are sequentially deposited, thereby producing a three-dimensional metal component.

This process is similar to other rapid prototyping technologies in its approach to fabricate a solid component by layer additive methods. However, the LENSŪ technology is unique in that fully dense metal components are fabricated directly from raw materials, bypassing initial forming operations such as casting, forging, and rough machining.

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WES Housing

LENS® offers the opportunity to dramatically reduce the time and cost required to realize functional metal parts. As a material additive process, additional cost savings will be realized through increased material utilization as compared to bulk removal processes. LENS® can also be used to modify or repair existing hardware.

Parts have been fabricated from stainless steel alloys, nickel-based alloys, tool steel alloys, titanium alloys, and other specialty materials; as well as composite and functionally graded material deposition. Microscopy studies show the LENSŪ parts to be fully dense with no compositional degradation. Mechanical testing reveals outstanding as-fabricated mechanical properties.

 

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