System Will Be First to Combine LENS Additive Metal Capabilities with Traditional Subtractive Processing in a Single Hybrid Machine
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — July 10, 2014 — Optomec today announced that its LENS Print Engine for metal components has been adopted by the Center for Remanufacturing and Resources Recovery (C3R) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The system at C3R will retrofit LENS 3D metal printing capabilities within a conventional CNC vertical milling machine enabling a hybrid additive/subtractive manufacturing work cell. The hybrid manufacturing work cell will be used for both research and commercial production in the remanufacture and repair of high value metallic components used by the Transportation, Medical and Aviation industries.
C3R is considered one of the world’s leaders in remanufacturing, which involves restoring worn or damaged in-service parts to extend their useful life. The LENS process can either fully build 3D metal parts, when replacement parts are no longer available, or selectively and precisely add materials onto an existing metal component of almost any 3-dimensional shape making it also ideally suited to perform repair/remanufacturing operations. The process leverages LENS “blown powder” technology, which is an industrial proven method to add metal directly onto an existing metal part. The LENS print head delivers powdered metal and a highly focused laser beam to the damaged part area enabling repair of components in a way not possible with traditional repair methods such as welding. The low heat input of the LENS process creates a lower Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) of the part under repair, and reduces the chance of distortion.
The LENS Print Engine’s modular, open system architecture allows for easy integration with either new or pre-owned CNC machine tools. This open approach enables customers to implement additive manufacturing technology in a cost effective manner by leveraging existing capital assets and speeding productive use through a common Human Machine Interface (HMI) already known by machinists. In a similar vein, the open system approach extends to the metal powder feedstock used by the system where Optomec supports third party suppliers to optimize the performance of their materials for use with the LENS process. This enables LENS customers to purchase feedstock directly from multiple sources further reducing cost and single source supply risks.
“The remanufacture of industrial components requires a production proven process capable of adding materials onto any 3D metal structure,” said Dr. Michael Haselkorn, Director of the Material Science and Engineering Laboratory Research Faculty at C3R. “The quality of the repaired area must have mechanical properties equal to or even better than the original part. The LENS process was selected because it met this requirement and because its unique open architecture approach enables the remanufacture of components that previously could not be cost-effectively repaired. In addition, the Optomec open systems approach provides the flexibility to utilize LENS technology with machine tools and processes that are commonly used by our network of partners, which will help with adoption of this new technology.”
C3R will utilize their LENS hybrid system as part of an automated work cell for remanufacturing components. The automated work cell will include a standalone 3D laser scanner that will provide data describing the defective area of the part, which can be used to create a repair tool path. The hybrid manufacturing machine will process the tool path and add material where needed and then perform finish machining, all with one set-up operation.
The C3R hybrid repair work cell will be available to other universities or commercial companies, which can contract with RIT for funded development or use the work cell for themselves for development and production work.
The Center for Remanufacturing and Resource Recovery (C3R®) at Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized as the leading center for research and development in the remanufacturing field. The Center was established as a partnership between industry, academia and the government to support industry advancement. Since 1991, C3R has worked to develop, test and implement efficient and cost-effective remanufacturing processes while also promoting the design of products that have minimal negative environmental impacts. C3R is a research unit of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS).
The Center conducts independent research on remanufacturing technologies, design for remanufacturing, logistics and policy, and business operations. The Center is closely tied and aligned with the Remanufacturing Industries Council and functions as its research and development arm, both nationally and internationally. More information can be found at http://www.rit.edu/gis/remanufacturing/
Optomec is a privately-held, rapidly growing supplier of production
grade Additive Manufacturing systems. Optomec patented Aerosol Jet
systems for printed electronics and LENS 3D Printers for metal
components are used by industry to reduce product cost and improve
performance. Together, these unique printing solutions work with the
broadest spectrum of functional materials, ranging from electronic inks
to structural metals and even biological matter. Optomec has more than
150 marquee customers around the world, targeting production
applications in the Electronics, Energy, Life Sciences and Aerospace
industries. For more information about Optomec, visit