Mazak, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Cooperate on R&D


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Continuing collaborative efforts for the technological advancement of manufacturing processes, Mazak Corp. and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have entered into a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA). Working on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, ORNL and Mazak will further develop the use of hot wire deposition (HWD) for additive manufacturing.

The project involves Mazak’s hybrid multitasking HWD technologies. Upon completion, it is expected to result in a closed-loop control system featuring the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments according to sensor feedback during the HWD build process. In-process adjustability will help to ensure the consistency, quality and reliability of the technology, especially for manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive and die/mold industries, among others.

Specific applications include the repair of turbine blades and other high-wear parts such as engine blocks, cylinder heads, and molds and dies. With the ability to build up worn or damaged parts and refinish them on the same machine, manufacturers can increase the working lives of those parts and avoid the cost of producing new ones, says Mazak.

In operation, the closed-loop system would monitor and control the HWD melt pool temperature. As new layers are formed/built, temperatures of the initial layers cool as more layers are built above them. Conversely, as the HWD build continues, overall process heat levels also gradually increase as compared with those at the start of the build. For both scenarios, the control system will vary the laser intensity to maintain consistent temperatures.

Mazak developed its initial hybrid HWD technology in partnership with Lincoln Electric. The two companies collaborated to combine Lincoln’s HWD process to that of Mazak’s multitasking machine tool technology. Mazak’s VC 500A/5X HWD uses a laser head to grow part features then switches to milling to finish the feature to specifications.