DDM Systems offers exclusive access to two disruptive technologies for additive manufacturing:
- LAMP™ Large Area Maskless Photopolymerization - for direct digital manufacturing of ceramic cores and integral-cored shell molds for investment castings, and for the 3D printing of complex structures in diverse technical ceramics and photopolymerizable material systems.
- SLE™ Scanning Laser Epitaxy - for laser additive manufacturing and re-manufacturing of high value components in conventionally non-weldable high-temperature alloys.
LAMP™ TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM
Our LAMP™ technology platform disrupts ‘lost-wax’ investment casting methods used for thousands of years. The current investment casting process begins with the design and manufacture of tools and dies for injection molding of ceramic cores and wax patterns, ceramic core injection (to create the internal geometry including hollow passages), wax patterns (to define the external geometry), and a multilayer outer shell mold, then proceeds through casting and solidification in a furnace to create a shape that then requires labor-intensive handiwork and tooling to remove inaccuracies and add fine details. LAMP circumvents this lengthy, cumbersome multi-step process. And unlike other commercial 3DP technologies available, LAMP platforms invented at DDM Systems achieve the exacting tolerances and shape requirements inside and out for high-precision cores and integral-cored molds demanded by the state-of-the-art investment casting industry.
Our LAMP technology platform effectively integrates maskless optical imaging with UV light photopolymerization of liquid ceramic resins to produce cores and integral-cored shell molds directly from digital designs, layer-by-layer, using the fine-feature resolution and high throughput automation of scanning maskless lithography. Parts built with LAMP are post-processed through binder burnout and high-temperarture firing to produce ceramic articles with geometry and properties suitable for investment casting while meeting design intent.
Our patented LAMP technology offers an unprecedented ability to rapidly manufacture precision parts and components, en masse or in smaller batches, with macro-scale exterior dimensions (centimeters to tens of centimeters) and fine micro-scale interior features (tens to hundreds of microns). No tradeoffs are ever faced between resolution, object size, and production speed. Designs previously not manufacturable by investment casting become possible, without additional handiwork and long lead times. LAMP platforms efficiently replace costly multi-step and low-yield lost wax investment casting with custom optimized additive manufacturing that saves time, costs, material, and energy, without requiring additional handiwork or compromising on component performance.
DDM Systems is applying its LAMP Technology Platform for the rapid, low-cost primary manufacture of turbine engine hot-section components including airfoils, vanes, shrouds and panels in single-crystal (SX), directionally solidified (DS) and equiaxed (EQ) nickel-base superalloys. The LAMP platform builds ceramic cores and integral-cored molds for advanced component designs on-demand, in complex aerodynamic shapes, and with the faithful reproduction of hollow internal passages otherwise unachievable. No additional hard tooling or handiwork is required.
Through direct digital manufacturing (DDM) of ceramic cores, the LAMP platform eliminates 3 out of 12 major process steps in state-of-the art investment casting, i.e. core tooling design, core tooling manufacture, and ceramic injection, thereby eliminating the associated costs, lead time, rework and scrap. Through DDM of integral-cored molds, the LAMP platform eliminates 7 out of 12 major process steps in state-of-the art investment casting, i.e. core and wax tooling design, core and wax tooling manufacture, ceramic injection, wax injection, wax meltout, slurry coating, and stucco coating, thereby eliminating even more of the associated costs, lead time, rework and scrap.
Benefit to the Customer
Our studies have shown that LAMP eliminates all hard tooling, reduces material waste by up to 90%, lead time for first castings by up to 2 years, and associated tooling and fabrication costs by up to 65%. Affordable custom LAMP platforms in development at DDM are available for the DDM of current and next generation turbine engine hot-section component designs using advanced nickel-base superalloys. Future light-weighting applications of LAMP include titanium, aluminum, and magnesium castings.
SLE™ TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM
Our SLE™ technology platform disrupts additive manufacturing by progressively fusing thin layers of metal powders of previously considered non-weldable turbine engine hot-section nickel-base superalloys using a powerful scanning laser, proprietary scanning algorithms and real-time feedback control. SLE enables the 3DP of entirely new complex designs, without post-process tooling using more advanced materials, such as difficult-to-process and light-weight metal alloys considered to be conventionally non-weldable or non-joinable used in hot-section turbine blades and vanes. SLE can also repair and restore components to defect-free or better-than-new condition for the first time, without extensive post-processing or additional tooling.
What makes our SLE platform a breakthrough over current standards of depositing thin layers of fresh metal on worn surfaces by welding is SLE’s capability to precisely deposit metal that is metallurgically identical or even superior to the parent metal by melting fresh powdered metal with a scanning laser until it freezes as an epitaxial crystal, providing an unprecedented layer-by-layer restoration or fabrication without compromising on metallurgy, design integrity and tolerances. SLE thus allows for the rapid production or restoration of metal components with complex internal and external configurations from laser-melted powders without tooling.
Benefit to the Customer
Restorative SLE applications are an integral part of DDM’s sustainable 3DP strategy, which supports the maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) industry for high-value parts such as turbine engine hot-section components in state-of-the-art nickel-base superalloys, as well as emerging additive metals markets such as biomedical devices. SLE can extend end-of-life cycles dramatically by repairing or remanufacturing these and other high-value metal designs to ‘remanufacture’ and ‘reuse’, rather than scrap them and drive currently unsustainable metal mining and consumption trends. Customers and partners that work with DDM to apply SLE to their component needs can not only achieve unprecedented design fidelity at a fraction of the price and time required by other methods, but also attain energy and material efficiencies for environmental sustainability.