Short Laser Pulses for Material Deposition with Cold Spray Technology

In a new EU-funded project, researchers modify material surfaces with ultra-short laser pulses so that metal powder from a cold gas jet can adhere more easily. With Cold Spray Technology, coating lightweight materials such as plastics or carbon fiber reinforced plastic becomes significantly simpler. The project unites five partners from industry and research who want to extend low-pressure cold gas spraying to new applications.
Cold Gas Spraying is an additive manufacturing process in which metal powders are accelerated to supersonic speeds to adhere to material surfaces. The material deposition process is based on the kinetic energy of the particles. A thick layer (> 0.5 mm) is deposited with no thermal defect in the substrate. The deposited layer can be directly machined or reworked. The main advantages of low-pressure cold gas spraying are the lack of heat input, high processing speed, and low investment cost. New material combinations are especially promising in automotive and aeronautics. The main challenge is the adherence of the first layer on the workpiece.
The project aims to improve adhesion on different substrates by using high-speed laser surface structuring with integrated ns and ps lasers with low-pressure cold gas spraying. New material combinations can then be developed for industrial use. The deposition of metallic materials (Cu or Al) on carbon fiber and glass fiber reinforced plastic substrates is being investigated, which has already created significant interest in the aeronautic and automotive industries. In addition, the new technology can be applied in novel ways in electronics manufacturing, e. g. on a non-conducting housing for fanless heat removal from electronic components. (Source: Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT)

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