Optomec’s Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS) and Aerosol Jet System
Optomec is a privately owned, fast-growing provider of additive manufacturing systems. Optomec’s proprietary aerosol jet systems for printed electronics and LENS 3D metal part printers are used by industry to reduce product costs and boost performance. These revolutionary printing techniques work together with the broad variety of used materials, from electronic inks to structural metals and even biological materials. Optomec has over 200 branded customers around the world, targeting manufacturing applications in the electronics, energy, life sciences, and aerospace industries.
Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS)
LENS systems are used for the repair and rapid manufacturing of metal parts in state-of-the-art materials such as titanium and stainless steel. The LENS MR-7 system can be used to quickly create materials of extremely high quality. The LENS MR-7 system offers a working envelope of 300 mm cubed, making it ideal for the manufacture or maintenance of smaller parts. LENS systems use high-power fiber laser energy to create structures directly from metal powders, alloys, ceramics, or composites, one layer at a time. Both powder feeders allow for the processing of gradient materials—each layer may have a different chemistry. This allows for the development and study of new materials at incredible pace. LENS systems are used for applications ranging from rapid alloy growth and practical prototyping to rapid manufacturing or repair over the entire product lifecycle (Figure 5.4).
How the LENS System Works
LENS systems use a high-power laser together with powdered metals to create entirely dense structures directly from a three-dimensional solid CAD model. The CAD model is automatically divided into a path of the tool which instructs the LENS machine to build the part. Under the supervision of software the component is designed layer by layer, which monitors a variety of parameters to ensure geometric and mechanical integrity. The LENS process is housed in an argon-purged chamber so that the level of oxygen remains below 10 parts per million to ensure no impurity is present during deposition. The metal powder is fed to the process by Optomec’s proprietary powder feeding system which is capable of very accurately flowing small amounts of powder. When completed, the part is removed and can be heat-treated, hot-isostatic pressed, machined, or finished in any other way.