3D printing laser repair process improved with automation

| Manufacturing

Optomec Huffman HC 205 industrial 3D printing machine with integrated robotics

A Fanuc robot arm can now be integrated into Huffman laser cladding 3D printing equipment for high repeatability in high value aviation repairs.

Integrated robotic automation is now available for the Huffman range of industrial grade 3D Metal Additive Repair machines. This new approach combines Optomec’s Huffman production laser cladders together with a Fanuc LRMate 200, a compact, six-axis industrial robot with the approximate size and reach of a human arm.

This robotic integration automates the loading and unloading of parts into the chuck of the laser cladder, allowing the system to operate at even faster cycle times by working from trays and racks that contain a dozen or more components. Though the automation scheme is especially suited for high volume repair of turbine blades and vanes, it can be applied to a number of industrial applications such as the repair of sealing surfaces of diesel engine components, or the addition of hardfacing materials to industrial valve parts.

“Before automated laser cladding, the workflow for turbine blade repair was long and complicated. Optomec optimised the flow dramatically by combining vision systems, software and laser cladding into one hardened, production-grade process step. Now we are taking it one step further. Adding robotic part handling inside the machine really completes the automation for the process,” says Todd Lorich, Engineering Manager for Optomec’s Huffman line of automated laser cladders.

Optomec’s 3D Metal Additive systems use Directed Energy Deposition (DED) — a form of metal 3D Printing that enables highly repeatable repairs of high value components and delivers superior metallurgy at a lower cost as compared to hand TIG-welded repairs.

The combination of the Huffman line of laser cladders with the Fanuc LRMate 200 and Optomec’s AuotCLAD vision and adaptive process software takes automated laser cladding to the next level of throughput, making it ideal for high volume, high-accuracy, high-acceleration applications.

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