Rebuild or Replace – the Choice is yours with Direct Metal Laser Sintering
Rebuild or replace that is the question that business should be asking themselves more and more thanks to metal laser sintering. In this article we discuss the available options and practical considerations with a view to repair rather than replacement.
Repair or rebuilding is better than replacement
In general everybody would agree that rebuilding is better than replacement. Direct Metal laser sintering (DMLS) offers the opportunity for tool, part and mould repairs. Repairs are a growth area in the world of additive manufacturing. The principle is to repair or rebuild rather than to replace. DMLS offers the opportunity for quick, efficient, low cost repairs which will increase the operational life and decrease the downtime of tools and machinery.
How direct metal laser sintering works
The DMLS process works through the melting of incredibly fine layers of metallic powders, which are applied continuously until the finished product has been repaired.
The DMLS process works in the following way:
- To start the process a very thin layer of metal powder is applied to the tool, part, etc. being repaired
- The laser beam then fuses the metal powder at the intricately precise location defined within the CAD program design
- This process continues until all areas of the metal powder have been applied in all of the areas required, as per the CAD model
The above is a process that tends to take hours, but can take days depending on the complexity of repair in question.
The limitations of traditional manufacturing techniques
Many traditional manufacturing techniques are extremely complex, time consuming and require planning and significant human interaction.
One of the main traditional processes which DMLS eliminates is welding. This is a classic example of a traditional process and requires cutting, fixing new metal, welding, re-machining, polishing, testing and more. The end product of welding is usually strong but not to the same quality as DMLS will provide.
The need for speed and efficiency
The demand for DMLS has grown due to the need for speed and efficiency. Businesses are looking for ways to reduce timescales whilst also reducing costs, usually this would be a tricky combination – but one which can be achieved through DMLS.
The whole DMLS process is very efficient; repairs can be made to bring a part, moulds, etc. back to their exact original state through precise 3D modelling, which controls the laser beam. This type of repair is simply not possible with welding and traditional techniques which are completed on a “best endeavours” basis, but can never promise exact replacement.
Call SPI Lasers
To commence your own DMLS project why not call SPI Lasers? We’ll discuss your circumstances thoroughly and recommend a solution tailored to you, wherever you are based in the world.
Tel: +44 (0)1489 779 696
Image Credit: Jadesqr
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