Chicago, Illinois - While laser metal additive manufacturing has clear benefits there are still a number of factors preventing the technology from being fully adopted for industrial manufacturing. These factors include; the high cost of laser additive manufacturing systems, the unique Human Machine Interface (HMI) making it difficult for users to learn and operate metal 3D printers, the long part qualification and certification approval process, and the need for better process controls, however reducing the cost barrier is paramount. In this presentation, information will be provided on an America Makes funded program to combine laser metal additive technology with legacy CNC machine tools. Information will be presented on how an Optomec led team retrofitted a 1990s vintage Fadal Vertical Mill with a LENS Print Engine, enabling metal additive and metal subtractive operations (i.e.Hybrid Manufacturing) to be performed on the same part, and on the same machine tool. Key process control issues will be presented for consistent 3D printing of high quality metal. In addition, materials processing “lessons learned” issues related to additive/subtractive Hybrid Manufacturing will be discussed. These would include issues related to powder/chip reclamation and yield, inert gas shielding, thermal control, process monitoring and control, machine tool wear, as well as cutting tool wear and lubrication.
About the speaker
Tom McDonald currently manages several America Makes and SBIR projects related to the LENS metal additive manufacturing/3D printing technology. He has been working in the area of laser materials processing (cutting, welding, drilling and marking in addition to additive manufacturing) for more than thirty years. Prior to working at Optomec, Mr. McDonald worked as a key consultant for ten years managing fourteen DOD Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I and Phase II contracts as a Principal Investigator and Program Manager for various small business technology clients. He has also worked in recent years with the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) where he assisted their business and process development efforts in the area of additive manufacturing utilizing Optomec’s LENS technology. Prior to his work at Triton and CCAT, Mr. McDonald was a co-founder of Laser Fare, Inc., where he was responsible for new business development including traditional laser materials processing applications and innovative process development for leading-edge applications. Much of Mr. McDonald’s experience in capital equipment and process development related to materials processing and quality control was spent dedicated to laser-based equipment and process development in the aircraft engine and airframe manufacturing and overhaul and repair environments. He served as Laser Fare’s principal technical liaison with industrial technology companies such as General Electric, United Technologies and Honeywell. He managed Laser Fare’s involvement in several manufacturing technology research projects funded by Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and SBIR grants as well as the company’s early technical and commercialization efforts with Optomec’s LENS technology. Mr. McDonald has a B.S. in Materials Science Engineering from Brown University.
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