In additive manufacturing, components are created from nothing more than powder and laser light. On the basis of a 3D model, the laser constructs the component layer by layer. As such, additive methods contrast with ablation and forming methods, which have predominated in industrial production until now. The paradigm shift toward additive manufacturing carries the promise of producing geometrically complex objects which could not be produced using traditional methods – all without using any tools. One great benefit here is the freedom to design any desired shapes.
The laser is the key element in additive manufacturing. It melts on the metal powder and solidifies it to produce a high-quality workpiece. There are different versions of additive manufacturing for metals: laser metal fusion and laser metal deposition. With laser metal fusion, the laser creates new workpieces by building up layers from powder. This method has proven particularly advantageous when producing prototypes, unique pieces, and small series. With laser metal deposition, the laser generates a weld pool on the component surface. A metal filler material powder is then continuously added and melted on this pool. This creates beads that are welded to one another, which then form structures on existing base bodies or entire components. You can also use this method for coating and repair work.