As the result of a Research Executive Agency (REA) funded project, Fraunhofer ILT and partners have found that ultra-short laser pulses can modify material surfaces to allow easier adhesion of metal powder from a low-pressure cold gas jet. This could help speed up the additive manufacturing processes, whilst reducing heat input and investment cost.
Fraunhofer has said that Cold Spray Technology can simplify the coating of lightweight materials such as plastics or carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) and that new materials combinations are helping to open new applications. The deposition of metallic materials (Cu or Al) on carbon fibre and glass fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP and GFRP) substrates is being investigated, which Fraunhofer said has already created significant interest in the aeronautic and automotive industries.
Cold Gas Spraying is an additive manufacturing process in which metal powders are accelerated to supersonic speeds to adhere to material surfaces. Using nanosecond or picoseconds laser pulses, the new technology can also be applied to electronics manufacturing. Cold Spraying can deposit a layer of copper on a non-conducting housing for fanless heat removal from electronic components.
The EU research project ‘Efficient Manufacturing of Laser-Assisted Cold-Sprayed Components’ (EMLACS) unites five partners from industry and research who want to extend low-pressure cold gas spraying to new applications. Research teams from Université de Technologie de Belfort-Montbéliard (UTBM, FR) Fraunhofer-Institute for Laser Technology ILT (GER) are developing the process; Dycomet Europe (NL) brings cold gas spraying expertise; Edgewave (GER) deliver high-power short-pulsed laser technology, and Industrial Laser Systems (FR) is acting as the system integrator and coordinator of the project.