Laser based additive manufacturing is a key technology for sustainable mobility and power engineering. It has undergone a dynamic development in recent years regarding process stabilization, reliability and standardization. However, in the current state laser based additive manufacturing still requires extensive R and D work in process understanding and investigation of material properties as well as developing new materials and advance the process possibilities. To overcome restrictions of commercially available AM machines with regard to necessary powder quantity and adaptable equipment such as sensors and e.g. heating devices two individual laser process chambers (LPCs), manual and partly automated, have been established. In addition to the low powder quantities needed to produce samples for process and material development the LPCs also offer the possibility to manufacture two materials in alternating layers to combine physical properties. A manual LPC is used to produce small scale samples from lab scale adjusted WC-Co powder types to further develop the material class for AM and to deepen understanding of phase formation. WC-12Co with additives is successfully manufactured to a high density and phase formation is investigated. The manual LPC is also used to proof the concept of layered AM structures from a combination of Fe and FeAl for magnetic applications. A further developed and automated version of the manual LPC is then used to produce larger layered samples for further analysis.
Due to its flexibility, laser can be used for a wide variety of applications. Applications that are suitable for laser material processing include polishing, hardening, cleaning structuring, soldering and 3D printing (SLM). However, treating of complex freeform surfaces is challenging in terms of track planning. As manual track planning is not economically viable, there is a demand for software solutions for track planning with respect to time-based processes. This paper deals with the development of a software solution for automated track planning with respect to time-based processes. In addition, the introduced software includes postprocessors for fully automated G-Code, Rapid and Kuka Robot Language (KRL) generation. To demonstrate the feasibility and advantage of a time-based offline track planning of robot guided laser application, an additively manufactured freeform surface was laser polished. An application example represents the robot guided laser polishing of a complex 3D freeform surface. Investigations revealed a relative roughness reduction ~92 % of X2CrNiMo17-12-2 steel (1.4404).