Generative metal laser fusing used to create model of reusable space vehicle

generative1
Jürgen Mengering and Markus Boje stand in the DLR's LaserCusing lab with their scaled titanium model of the Alpha space vehicle. (Image: Concept Laser)

 

Lichtenfels, Germany--A scale model of the proposed European space vehicle Alpha suitable for wind-tunnel testing has been fabricated via Concept Laser's LaserCusing process. The generative-fabrication technique uses a laser to melt titanium powder in a closed, oxygen-free environment.

Alpha is an air-launched reusable suborbital space vehicle under study by the European Space Agency (ESA). The final, full-scale Alpha would be launched from a carrier plane and rocket-propelled into a suborbital trajectory. After reaching the maximum flying altitude of roughly 100 km, it would glide back down to its point of departure and land automatically. The Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR; the German Center for Air- and Spaceflight) is constructing the scale model using LaserCusing equipment.


Before the fabrication process, the LaserCusing enclosure is flooded with argon gas, which remains the only surrounding gas until the powdered-metal and laser fabrication run is completed. The result is a thin-walled, yet strong Alpha model with a porosity of only 0.02% and a surface roughness of Ra 7-8. By using a downstream blasting process, it is possible to achieve the required surface roughness of Ra 1.6. At this point, the model is ready for a flight in the wind tunnel.

The scaled titanium model was produced by Jürgen Mengering, LaserCusing expert, and Markus Boje, head of the DLR's Systemhaus Technik.

Prospects for generative technology
In addition to larger part sizes, the need is increasing for hybrid parts, which can, for example, be made partly of copper and partly of steel (the copper aids in heat dissipation). To improve surface quality, various methods are currently being tried at the DLR, including coating, electrolytic polishing, automated grinding processes, and blasting processes. DLR's working relationship with its system partner Concept Laser is excellent in terms of the process support, and the potential of the technology is only in its infancy, as Markus Boje sees it. The DLR currently has two LaserCusing machines in operation, one in Cologne-Porz-Wahnheide and the other in Göttingen.



50 YEARS OF SOLID-STATE LASERS


A long way from the ruby laser

Most Popular Articles

Webcasts

Multichannel Spectroscopy: Technology and Applications

This webcast, sponsored by Hamamatsu, highlights some of the photonic technology used in spectroscopy, and the resulting applications.

Handheld Spectrometers

Spectroscopy is a powerful and versatile tool that traditionally often required a large and bulky instrument. The combination of compact optics and modern pa...

Fracking, climate change, and lasers:  new tools to reduce fugitive methane emissions

This webcast, sponsored by Hamamatsu Corporation, covers recent developments and field deployments of compact quantum-cascade-laser (QCL)-based methane senso...

Opportunities in the Mid-IR

The technology for exploiting the mid-IR is developing rapidly:  it includes quantum-cascade lasers and other sources, spectroscopic instruments of many...
White Papers

Narrow-line fiber-coupled modules for DPAL pumping

A new series of fiber coupled diode laser modules optimized for DPAL pumping is presented, featur...

Accurate LED Source Modeling Using TracePro

Modern optical modeling programs allow product design engineers to create, analyze, and optimize ...

Optical Isolators Improve Engraving Performance of Pulsed Fiber Lasers

The deleterious effects of back reflections on pulsed fiber lasers used in marking and engraving ...
Technical Digests

WAVELENGTH-SWEPT LASERS: Dispersion-tuned fiber laser sweeps over a 140 nm range for OCT

By eliminating the use of mechanical tunable filters and instead tuning by intensity-modulation i...

Keeping pace with developments in Raman spectroscopy for molecular and nanoparticle research

For demanding or custom spectroscopy solutions, care must be taken in selecting and integrating a...

HIGH-POWER FIBER LASERS: Working in the kilowatt regime

High-power materials-processing fiber lasers are available in an increasing variety of forms, as ...

Click here to have your products listed in the Laser Focus World Buyers Guide.
Social Activity
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Copyright © 2007-2014. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS