Additive manufacturing enables complex defence- related components, such as jet engine blades, to be manufactured with minimal wastage of expensive materials.
Selective laser melting (SLM) is an additive manufacturing technology that begins with a 3D digital design. A high-powered laser beam selectively fuses fine metal powders together in a layer-by-layer method until a highly customised, 3D metal part is produced. DMTC research in this area is aimed at understanding and mitigating the known risks to implementation of this technology, particularly in structural and critical components.
Materials used in defence applications pose unique challenges for process optimisation. The project team has identified key parameters for optimisation: laser power, orientation, layer thickness and maintaining ‘defocus distance’ in the SLM process. Outcomes are expected to reduce cost and improve throughput.
Researchers have also commenced topology optimisation to investigate design opportunities that deliver weight savings without compromising the mechanical performance of the component, relative to manufacture by other means.