A team of researchers at RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia) is using laser metal deposition technology (a 3D printing technique) to build and repair defense aircraft parts in a two-year collaboration with RUAG Australia (Bayswater, Australia) and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC; Carlton, Australia).
Laser metal deposition technology feeds metal powder into a laser beam, which when scanned across a surface adds new material in a precise, web-like formation. The metallurgical bond created has mechanical properties similar, or in some cases superior, to those of the original material. “It’s basically a very high-tech welding process where we make or rebuild metal parts layer by layer,” explains Professor Milan Brandt, who is leading the work. He says the concept is proven and prospects for its successful development are extremely positive.