Laser Additive Solutions Ltd (LAS), a provider of laser processing and Additive Manufacturing services based in Doncaster, UK, is targeting customers in the UK’s rapidly growing space sector, following its purchase of a TruPrint 3000 metal Additive Manufacturing machine from Trumpf, headquartered in Ditzingen, Germany.
Established in 2015, the team at LAS has over 50 years of combined experience in precision laser repair, manufacture and joining processes. Customers include those operating in the general engineering, fusion energy, aerospace and military sectors, among others. The company is ISO9001-accredited and is reported to have close ties with a number of UK universities and research organisations.
THE WORLD OF METAL AM TO YOUR INBOX
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter
“Our core expertise is LMD [laser metal deposition], although like most in the industry we’re now referring to this process as laser DED [direct energy deposition],” Managing Director, Peter Brown, explained. “We have two very good systems that undertake laser DED, both of which use Trumpf lasers. While these machines can support our steady growth moving forward, to drive faster progress I felt we needed a complementary process, hence our interest in a powder-bed machine.”
Originally, LAS made inquiries into a new Trumpf TruPrint 1000, a compact metal AM machine that can offer fast, cost-efficient, small-series production. However, the company’s application for a grant was unsuccessful, so LAS put the project on hold. Then Trumpf alerted the company of the availability of a used TruPrint 3000 machine. “Although the machine had been previously used, it had very low running hours, almost untouched. A powder-bed system had been in my thoughts for a number of years; this was clearly the opportune moment to make the leap,” shared Brown.
Another major driving force behind the investment was a surprise new contract secured by LAS, which involves a long-term production welding job on its laser DED machines. The company has had Trumpf laser and welding systems on site since its formation in 2015. “This work began generating extra revenue that we hadn’t expected, so we used some of that as a deposit on the TruPrint 3000,” Brown added.
The UK space sector
“Our number one target for the TruPrint 3000 is the UK’s space sector,” stated Brown. “The space sector is constantly seeking manufacturing solutions for lightweight structures that are not easy to build with other technologies.”
High-strength aluminium is a crucial material for many of these lightweight structures. Fortunately, the TruPrint 3000 is already configured to use this material.
“We’ll continue with this material initially, maybe introducing others at a later date,” Brown added. “The TruPrint 3000 is the start of a journey for us, but we don’t expect it to be vastly different to how we work with our laser DED systems. We’re familiar with developing machine parameters for new components, performing trials and experimenting with different build techniques. We can also assist with design suggestions to suit additive manufacture and help minimise costs for customers.”
Another advantage that LAS sees with the addition of its TruPrint 3000, which is the first such model installed in the UK for job shop applications, is its ability to run 24/7, unmanned overnight and at the weekends. “The machine is very production-oriented and, if we find the right jobs, I’m sure we can keep it running around the clock,” Brown commented. “In 10 years’ time we could have multiples of these machines, potentially a unit filled with banks of them. Broadening our customer database into 3D metal printing may also lead to additional laser DED and laser welding opportunities.”
LAS has experienced robust business growth, which today occupies three industrial units, leading the company to double its headcount in recent years. The future also looks promising for LAS, as the company is currently bidding for its biggest ever contract valued at over £1 million. “If we win, we’ll invest in another laser DED system and hire more people,” Brown concluded. “We’re very heavy investors and plough everything back into the business. Obviously that can’t go on forever, but my ambition for now is to continue building our technological capability.”