Empa and BeAM

Joint research on Laser Deposition Welding

Oct 11, 2018 | RAINER KLOSE

Empa and BeAM, a manufacturer of machines for metal 3D printing, are glad to announce an extensive research and development agreement. This partnership focuses on powder-based Directed Energy Deposition (DED) and aims at jointly developing the technological foundations for the next generation of high-precision DED machines.

Metal 3D printers with DED technology make it possible to produce complex shaped, thin-walled workpieces in a very short time.

This partnership follows the acquisition early 2018 by Empa of a BeAM DED machine that will be used to integrate and test innovative components. The machine is located at Empa’s Laboratory for Advanced Materials Processing led by Patrik Hoffmann in Thun, whose team is recognized for its expertise in laser processing, powder metallurgy and process monitoring. “We are very excited to collaborate with BeAM’s engineers to push the boundaries of this innovative additive manufacturing technology and to develop a whole new range of applications for Swiss industries and beyond”, said Hoffmann. BeAM’s CEO Vincent Gillet added: “We are very proud that Empa joins our network of partners to help us enhance our technical lead in DED technology”. 

DED, also called Laser Deposition Welding is a very high-potential 3D printing technology as it allows to manufacture parts much faster than powder-bed manufacturing and provides a unique possibility to feed different metal powders simultaneously and fuse them to form a Functionally Graded Material. The additive production of sandwich structures is also possible.

DED is an Additive Manufacturing process where focused thermal energy is used to fuse materials by melting them as they are deposited. Typical DED machines utilize a deposition nozzle mounted on the Z-axis of a DED dedicated CNC machine, in which metal powder is blown by argon gas. This allows continuous 5 axis of freedom to build/repair components layer by layer without the need for support structures. With this partnership, Empa joins the BeAM customer network, that includes some of the world’s most renowned institutes in Additive Manufacturing, such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ONRL), the University of Sheffield, Nanyang University of Technology, ESTIA engineering school, Ecole Polytechnique and IRT Saint Exupéry

The DED Technology also is called Laser Metal Deposition (LMD). A laser generates a molten bath on the surface of the component.Metal powder is blown into the melt bath with the aid of argon gas. The metal powder melts and bonds with the workpiece.
About BeAM

BeAM, created in December 2012, is a pioneer in designing and producing industrial metal additive manufacturing machines using the DED technology (Directed Energy Deposition) and is growing rapidly across the globe. BeAM works closely with its customers and business partners to develop and industrialize manufacturing and repair processes with feasibility assessments, pilot production, training and sales of systems. To date, BeAM has developed innovative repair methods for critical aircraft engine parts enabling previously un-repairable components to be re-deployed for use in flight. Further application opportunities for DED solutions are the addition of features to existing components and the creation of near net shape parts.

In June 2018, BeAM joined the AddUp Group, the French leader in the design, production and marketing of metal AM machines based in Clermont-Ferrand, a joint-venture between Fives and Michelin.

Further information
Prof. Dr. Patrik Hoffmann
Advanced Materials Processing
Phone +41 58 765 62 62

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