Optomec LENS Introduction

From: Rich Plourde (rplourde@erols.com)
Date: Thu Jan 13 2000 - 18:27:16 EET

The purpose of this email is to introduce you to Optomecís Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS) technology.

Developed at Sandia National Labs and commercialized by Optomec, LENS is a revolutionary technology which produces fully dense metal parts, with outstanding mechanical properties directly from a CAD file.  A high powered laser beam is focused onto a metal substrate where metallic powder is injected under computer control to build 3D parts, layer by layer.

LENS is being commercialized by Optomec Design Company to address a wide range of applications including:

* Tooling applications for Injection Mold Tooling and Die Casting where LENS' unique Thermal Management and hard facing capabilities can improve cycle times by 50% and extend mold life.  Flood Zone Cooling and gradient material deposition are unique capabilities of LENS technology.

* Repair and Overhaul applications due to LENS' nd:YAG small Heat Affected Zone (HAZ), allowing for higher yield and superior part repairs. 

* "Functional" Prototyping and Short Run Manufacturing made possible due to producing fully dense metal parts with outstanding mechanical properties (high strength & ductility), not found with Rapid Prototyping systems.  With LENS produced parts, you can test part functionality in high stress and high thermal environments.

* Material Research to address a wide range of current and emerging applications.  LENS' ability to provide multiple material gradient deposition offers unique material research options.

The LENS technology can achieve 100% densities, superior hardness and better ductility for many metals and alloys, including Titanium.  For example, due to the LENS process, 30% stronger Titanium (Ti-6A1-4V) parts can be fabricated compared to traditional methods.  Parts made up of two or more discreet materials, or processed as a gradient, can also be fabricated for optimum thermal management and electrical conductivity applications.

In the high cost, high performance parts market, repairs can now be accomplished by adding the same part material where needed without causing thermal stress or micro-cracking.  The LENS part repair fabrication process can significantly reduce post processing time, therefore improving part recycle time.  Novel applications for the LENS technology are being investigated.  For example, a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract has chartered Optomec to investigate the ability to embed sensors (ie: thermo couplers, strain gauges) directly into parts during the LENS fabrication process.

For the above reasons, in December 1998, Optomec received the prestigious annual "Top 25 Technologies" award from IndustryWeek.  The article can be seen at:

In May 1999, Optomec received the Photonics Spectra Circle of Excellence Award, honoring the 25 most innovative photonic products of the year.

An interesting article regarding LENS technology can be seen at:

Thank you for your interest and consideration.

Best Regards,

Rich Plourde
Optomec Design Company
10229 Queens Camel Court
Ellicott City, MD 21042
  Email: rplourde@optomec.com

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