Laser Peening to Enhance Additive Manufacturing

Laser peening to treat cracks and voids in additive manufacturing

Laser peening might be one of the key next steps for additive manufacturing.

3-D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM), started as a popular modeling and prototyping tool. Today, Airbus has more than 1,000 3-D printed parts on its A-350 XWB jets, while Lockheed Martin and Boeing are aggressively incorporating the technology as well.

“From simple geometry parts with lots of cracks and voids that you risk breaking in your hand, they’ve come a long way toward robust parts that are actually being used in different industries,” said Micheal Kattoura, a Materials Sciences Engineer at LSP Technologies.

Mission-Critical AM Components

Can AM parts serve in mission-critical functions, facing high pressures, cracking and corrosion? Right now, that depends on the development of strategies for strengthening AM-manufactured parts to compensate for their weaknesses.

Kattoura worked on AM parts and laser peening during his postgraduate work at the University of Cincinnati, and he recently explored the potential of laser peening for improving metal alloys at the 2019 TMS Annual Meeting & Exhibition in San Antonio, Texas, one of the largest annual material science conferences with 4,000 attendees.

The conference featured a symposium on Additive Manufacturing of Metals, or 3-D printing using powdered metals. Kattoura presented his own academic research, entitled, “Effect of Laser Shock Peening Processing Parameters on the Microstructure, Residual Stress, and Fatigue Behavior of Additive Manufactured CoCr Alloy.”

Laser peening has a great deal of promise for enhancing the performance of parts created in additive manufacturing (AM), Kattoura concluded. Manufacturers should soon explore laser peening to provide parts with higher performance and safety, he believes.

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