In the field of additive manufacturing of metallic components, inspire deals with both powder bed (selective laser melting) and powder nozzle (direct metal deposition) processes. Our research considers the entire process chain. Our core competencies include:

  • Powder development and qualification (for the SLM and DMD process)
  • Process windows, -management and monitoring
  • Machine concepts and optimization of components
  • Material qualification and component characterization

Direct Metal Deposition (DMD)

For the additive manufacturing of large metallic components, a powder jet process is used (Direct Metal Deposition, DMD). This allows components such as turbine blades, dough hooks, excavator teeth etc. to be partially or completely coated with a wear protection layer made of, for example, cobalt- or nickel-based materials. The aim is to apply the thinnest possible protective layers with the least possible mixing with the base material.

While the classic laser cladding process is a two-dimensional coating process, laser DMD is a three-dimensional process that can be used to apply a large amount of material within a short period of time. Depending on the type of laser used, build-up rates of approx. 2 kg/h are achieved on the institute's own machine.

In the field of laser cladding, experience is available in process modelling with which the build-up behaviour of the protective layer can be calculated in advance as a function of various machine and laser parameters. The aim is to find a more fundamental understanding of the process and to reduce the time-consuming search for suitable process windows. This is to be transferred to the DMD process in the next few years.

Direct Metal Deposition (DMD)
Direct Metal Deposition

Selective Laser Melting (SLM)

The Selective Laser Melting process is suitable as a powder bed process especially for the production of smaller metallic components for applications in practically all industrial sectors, from mechanical engineering to aerospace, medical technology and tool making to applications in the jewellery sector. The strengths of the process lie in the relatively large variety of materials (Fe, Ni, Al, Co-based alloys, bronze, etc.) combined with very large geometric degrees of freedom.

Project with Ruag Space (video clip)
Project with Nova Werke AG (video clip)

Analytical laboratory

Our laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art analytical equipment and enables inspire to perform the necessary analyses along the entire AM process chain. This allows us to qualify metal and plastic powders for the SLM and SLS process, develop process windows and perform appropriate material analyses (density, microstructure, mechanical properties), as well as qualify AM components.

Quality management systems

Our various competences are a precondition for the development of quality management systems in order to qualify AM processes and related components for a certain application.