Laser Additive Manufacturing – The Comprehensive FAQ Guide

Not a lot of manufacturing and supplying companies, especially in the industrial sector are aware of laser additive manufacturing.

That’s why in this guide, we’ll be putting all of the thought in to it. By the end of this guide, not only will you be able to learn about laser additive manufacturing, you’ll have all the idea about how this can be beneficial for you, too!

What is the Laser Manufacturing Process?

To understand it in an easier, simpler, and a better sense, think of lasers and laser machining processes.

What is the Laser Manufacturing Process_

It is the process of removing materials using a laser beam so that you get the right shape, form, and size of the material you are working on, whether it’s steel, metal, plastic or PVC – even glass and fiberglass.

Laser manufacturing has been used in a ton of different business sectors and industries because of the precision and accuracy it offers.

But if the laser manufacturing process involves the subtraction or the removal of material, what is laser additive manufacturing?

What is Laser Additive Manufacturing?

Laser additive manufacturing encompasses the usual and the traditional manufacturing processes of subtractive or reductive applications.

What is Laser Additive Manufacturing_

It’s a unique procedure because it’s the combination of both subtractive and additive procedures, fabricating workpieces, parts, and components anew.

Due to its complexity, many different experts know that laser additive manufacturing is just a young and a new process that is yet to be perfected. What they don’t know is that a lot of Chinese laser manufacturers are already on the move of mastering it.

You might be wondering how this technology came to be. More importantly, you could be thinking how does the laser additive manufacturing procedure happen? That throws us down to our next question, which is…

How Does Laser Additive Manufacturing Work?

How Does Laser Additive Manufacturing Work_

The principle of how the laser additive manufacturing process works is simple. It uses a system, comprised of a laser, a laser head, and wire feeders or metal nozzles.

We start off with a metal head. The metal head needs to be the type of metal head that’s capable of producing 3D printing; it’s moved and transported to a platform, all the while adding metal powder to it through the heating of the laser beam, melting it to the surface.

The idea is that the powder is deposited alongside the laser beam so that it’s directly melted and burned to the workpiece or the material.

You can think of it as a cladding or a hardfacing process, where the materials are melted and deposited to the surface of the workpiece – that’s how laser additive manufacturing works.

What is Selective Laser Manufacturing?

Also referred to as direct metal laser melting or DMDLM, it’s a kind of laser manufacturing process that uses lasers with high power density to melt materials or to deposit necessary powders.

What is Selective Laser Manufacturing_

It’s termed as “selective” laser manufacturing due to the fact that not all products are applicable to be worked on by this particular process.

What is Laser Metal Deposition?

Laser metal deposition is the laser additive manufacturing procedure where a laser beam is used to melt powders or other types of materials into a metallic substrate.

What is Laser Metal Deposition_

From the term alone, the procedure aims to add material on top of a workpiece or a substrate by melting the material to be added.

Laser cladding and hardfacing are two (2) of the many different examples of laser metal deposition.

Applications of Laser Additive Manufacturing

Applications of Laser Additive Manufacturing

Laser additive manufacturing has a ton of different applications and uses. It was innovated with the goal of creating 3D solid objects through the addition of different materials and metals, without much pain.

You’ll find many different business sectors and industries that make use of this process, some of which include:

Medical and Biomedical Applications

The world is evolving and the likes of the people living on it isn’t becoming simpler, too. With the rise of laser additive manufacturing, tons of companies are investing in them to be able to create prosthetics, implants, and other types of applications that point toward health.

Its clinical applications are among the most common because of the ease of application as well as the precision and the accuracy.

Consumer Electronic Applications

Apart from the medical field, the laser additive manufacturing process is also used for the creation or the manufacturing of consumer electronics like motherboards, steel covers and plates, wires, and many more.

Due to the nature of electronics being small and hard-to-see, the procedure of using lasers to fabricate items are more accurate and precise.

Structural and Construction Applications

Part of where lasers started to be used on would be in the structural or the construction applications. The process of laser cladding, hardfacing, as well as laser welding are among the few most common applications of it in the structural sector or industry.

Aeronautical and Astronautical Applications

Of course, laser additive manufacturing is also a common use in the production or the manufacturing of both astronautical and aeronautical machines and equipment that are made out of steel, ceramics, as well as other advanced materials.

Aerospace Applications of Laser Additive Manufacturing

In the aerospace sector or industry, laser additive manufacturing is used in both the repairing and the manufacturing of products and machines.

Commonly, they’re the primary solution for the fabrication of various parts and components such as turbines, fuselage, empennage, wings, and others. The laser additive manufacturing process is also seen to be the most ideal if you’re to work on titanium blades, nickel-based alloys, as well as other components that have high value.

Those are some of the business sectors and industries that utilize laser additive manufacturing. Of course, your options aren’t just limited to those, they’re just the most common because of the parts and components that their operations or their machines require.

Pros of Laser Additive Manufacturing

You’ll find a lot of different benefits and advantages in choosing to go with laser additive manufacturing for your parts and components.

Some of the most common ones include:

Can Make Rare and Complex Shapes

Laser additive manufacturing is a procedure that’s considered by many businesses because of its ability to create the rarest and the most complex shapes that traditional manufacturing isn’t able to produce.

It’s so advanced that it’s capable of producing 3D parts and components!

Less Prototyping

Compared to usual manufacturing, the prototypes you’ll need to produce would be abundant because not all of them would be accurate.

Therefore, you can expect your costs for production and for prototyping to be less than what you are currently paying for.

All-In-One Process

Instead of producing individual materials and components and assembling them, laser additive manufacturing can produce a multitude of various parts and components at a time.

The need to separate the manufacturing and the assembly of these components is less compared to when you are to perform the traditional or the conventional manufacturing processes.

Accuracy and Precision – Even on Small Parts

Last but definitely not least would be the fact that laser additive manufacturing can produce highly accurate and precise parts and components even if the needed products are small.

This is the particular reason why AM or additive manufacturing is the process that’s chosen to be the most favorite in the sectors or industries of consumer electronics.

These are the pros of using laser additive manufacturing to your business. And while a lot of you may think that it’s all rainbows and butterflies, think again.

Along with those benefits and advantages, there are actually a couple of drawbacks in line with it.

Cons of Laser Additive Manufacturing

If laser additive manufacturing was easy, all businesses and companies would do it. Contrary to what most people believe in, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies – it contains a couple of things that you need to take note of, too.

Per Part Cost

You’ll be able to see savings on your cost if you’re going to produce about 1 to 100 prototypes. Should you need numbers that are beyond that, then the cost per parts would come in and can actually remove all of the cost savings you’ll have.

Rough Surface Finishing

While the laser additive manufacturing process seems advanced, many experts are concerned about the roughness of the surface texture of laser additive manufacturing compared to the usual and the conventional powder metal materials we have been using before.

So, to solve this particular concern, what suppliers and manufacturers do is finish it one extra time either by electro-polishing or by tumbling, which is added cost to the overall rate or price of the overall manufacturing cost.

Limited-to-No Custom Alloying

With traditional metal deposition, the properties of the clad are deposited to the surface of the material, homogenously mixing the two (2) parts together.

When it comes to laser additive manufacturing, on the other hand, the finished product’s mechanical properties will depend on the characteristics of the powder you’ll start with.

In a typical sense, additive manufacturing would use pre-alloyed materials in the base powder. Therefore, there’ll be no additional materials that could enter the surface or the workpiece.

It’s a Slow Process

While many people might think that laser additive manufacturing is a fast-paced process, it is not. They’re infamous for their slow production rate and is considered to be inefficient.

In terms of producing high volume of parts and components, the best way of manufacturing them would still be the traditional and the conventional methods.

These are just some of the drawbacks and cons of choosing to go with laser additive manufacturing. If ever you’re in an industry or a sector that goes across these, try considering if laser additive manufacturing is for you.

Are There Limitations on Additive Manufacturing?

Yes, there are certain limitations on laser additive manufacturing, as we’ve mentioned above, they’re not ideal for mass production of the highest level – or those that requires thousands of parts per day.

Another would be the fact that if the parts or components are to be used in special industries such as in the food industry, the medical industry, and the like – it would need special supplementary and complementary materials so that their corrosive resistance and wear resistance are developed.

The Best Laser Additive Manufacturing Company

Out of all the different options you have when it comes to laser additive manufacturing, no other company is trusted as us here at Waldun.

We have been the best, the most reliable, and the top experts in the field of AM and we’re continuously developing and improving it.

Unlike all other businesses and companies, we focus more on the process in order to be sure of the results.

We are armed with the best and the most advanced machines and equipment needed in the procedure of laser additive manufacturing.

Why Choose Waldun’s Laser Additive Manufacturing Services

There are a million reasons why we’re deemed and considered as the best when it comes to laser additive manufacturing.

Some of which include, but are not limited to:

  • We have highly educated and skilled engineers and experts
  • Waldun is trusted by world-renowned businesses and companies
  • We are certified and licensed against all the needed documents in our niche

Wherever you are in the world and whatever type of products you need, you can always bank and rely on us here at Waldun for all the manufacturing you require.

Never did we fail to deliver world-class quality services to our clients. With just a call or an email, we can get you the free quotation or estimate you require for all the requirements you need in your business.

Don’t hesitate to work with us – we’ll always be ready to help you!

Other than the laser additive manufacturing services we have, you can also count on us if you need hardfacing services, CRA weld overlay services, plasma hardfacing services, and many more!