Rapid Laser Forming of Titanium Near Shape Articles: LaserCast
An ongoing collaborative program sponsored by the DoD Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office ofNaval Research (ONR) continues to show promising results in the development of a new laser based manufacturing process. The program's goals are to develop and demonstrate a laser based, rapid manufacturing system (LaserCastTM) for titanium and its alloys. Economical precursor powders are being laser formed into integral, 100% dense, nearshape articles by sequentially fusing multiple metal-powder layers in a controlled environment. A CO2 continuous wave (CW) high energy laser has been used to form commercially pure (CP) titanium, Ti-6AI-4V, and Ti-5AI-2.5Sn in varied geometries from I-inch square bars to a 4-inch diameter (I-inch wall ) cylinder. Materials characterization tests, revealing excellent chemistry control and mechanical properties, are presented. Large near-shape structures may be formed directly from metal powders, without using molds or dies, by direct download and postprocessing from a Computer Aided Design (CAD) database. Economic projections indicate significant reductions in manufacturing costs and "time to market" production cycles when the LaserCast process is used instead of conventional casting and forging processes.