Hexagon aims to advance Directed Energy Deposition through collaborations

November 18, 2021

At Formnext 2021, Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, headquartered in Cobham, Surrey, UK, revealed its involvement in a number of projects to advance the application of Directed Energy Deposition (DED) Additive Manufacturing in industrial applications. The company reported on collaborations with machine manufacturers pro-beam, Sciaky, Inc, DM3D Technology, Gefertec GmbH and Meltio.

Driven by interest from the aerospace and defence industries, parts are often made from high-performance metal alloys such as titanium and high-temperature and stainless steels. Currently, Hexagon is working with machine OEMs, customers, and service providers to help predict how high-performance metal alloys behave when subjected to the thermal-mechanical stresses of the DED processes, which are compounded in large structures.

“We see significant demand for the use of our technologies in tandem to create customised, cost-effective solutions that meet the needs of specific Additive Manufacturing technologies in a variety of applications,” stated Mathieu Pérennou, Global Business Development Director for Additive Manufacturing, Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division. “Optimising deposition production processes may entail taking advantage of powerful simulation tools, state-of-the-art scanning technology, robust reverse-engineering and analysis software, or a combination of all of these technologies to achieve the required quality and repeatability.”

The PB WEBAM 100, introduced at Formnext 2021 by manufacturer pro-beam, based in Gilching, Germany, employs a vacuum chamber design to produce high-quality parts from typically challenging materials such as pure copper and titanium. Using Hexagon technologies, it validated a 100% virtual design-for-manufacturing workflow for this new Wire Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (WEBAM) machine using a structural aerospace part.

Hexagon’s Simufact Welding was used to create a DED simulation model which accounted for pro-beam’s proprietary vacuum conditions, clamping locations, and power adjustments to predict stresses, strains, and distortions. The PB WEBAM 100 was said to have successfully produced the part from thirty-five layers of titanium wire using an electron beam in the vacuum chamber. The additively manufactured part was scanned using Hexagon’s AS1 Absolute scanner and REcreate reverse engineering software, then compared to the final part geometry predicted by the simulation using VGMETROLOGY geometry analysis software from Volume Graphics.

Verena Uhl, product manager, pro-beam, commented, “Hexagon has the capability to both accurately predict and then accurately measure our WEBAM process, which gives us and customers confidence in our innovative new additive methods. The simulation has a very strong dimensional correlation and shows very similar bending of the base plate to the real part. Having reduced simulation time by a factor of thirteen without any loss of result quality, it is clear we can rely on Hexagon’s technologies for robust virtual engineering.”

Sciaky, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, USA, has also formed a partnership with Hexagon to ensure that its customers can use the company’s electron-beam AM machines to their full potential. Pairing these with Hexagon’s process simulation software for DED applications is said to ensure that the sophisticated printing technology can be leveraged for optimal productivity.

DM3D, Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA, was said to have used Hexagon measurement technologies to prove that it could meet NASA’s tolerance requirements in producing a full-scale NASA RS-25 nozzle liner (approximately 2.8 m in height with a 2.4 m diameter) as part of NASA’s Rapid Analysis and Manufacturing Propulsion Technology (RAMPT) project.

“Hexagon’s experience and portable metrology technology has proved very valuable for validating the RAMPT RS-25 liner part and generating an accurate model for finish machining,” stated Dr Bhaskar Dutta, president, DM3D Technology. “It is one of the largest DED builds ever made, so we needed a good and reliable inspection technique for part validation; it’s obviously not practical to move a 2-ton rocket engine part to a CMM for inspection. By accurately and quickly measuring the part inside the machine, we also see the opportunity to perform any rework on the part, had it been needed.”

Meltio, headquartered in Linares, Spain, has added Hexagon’s ESPRIT CAM software to its technology ecosystem, offering machine shops a single interface for preparing and programming hybrid DED production and machining. The collaboration is expected to streamline subtractive and AM workflows for users of Meltio’s Engie CNC Integration system. This hybrid manufacturing is said to enable the creation of complex parts with precision machining tolerances in a single step.

Hexagon is now exhibiting at Formnext, Hall 12, E69. Meltio will be present at 12, E119; pro-beam, 12, B19.


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