Tech Update


Laser Cladding Integrates with Robotic Loading for Batch Additive Repair

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Optomec Inc. has debuted integrated robotic automation for its Huffman line of production of metal additive-repair machines. The package combines Optomec’s Huffman production laser cladders with a Fanuc LRMate 200, a compact, six-axis industrial robot with the approximate size and reach of a human arm.

This robotic integration automates the loading and unloading of parts into the chuck of the laser cladder, allowing the system to operate at rapid cycle times by working from trays and racks that contain a dozen or more components. Though the automation is especially suited for high-volume repair of turbine blades and vanes, it can be applied to a number of industrial applications such as the repair of sealing surfaces of diesel engine components, or the addition of hardfacing materials to industrial valve parts. 

For laser cladding, Optomec machines employ directed-energy deposition, which enables highly repeatable repairs of high-value components, and delivers superior metallurgy at a lower cost as compared to hand gas-tungsten-arc-welded repairs, according to company officials.

“Before automated laser cladding, the workflow for turbine-blade repair was long and complicated,” says Todd Lorich, Optomec engineering manager for the Huffman line. “Optomec optimized the flow by combining vision systems, software and laser cladding into one hardened, production-grade process step. Now, adding robotic part handling inside of the machine completes the automation for the process, freeing the operator to add more value elsewhere in the workflow.” 

Optomec’s laser cladding machines are certified for aviation repair in 15 countries, according to company officials, who note that the Huffam line has remanufactured more than 10 million turbine components in the last 15 years.


See also: Optomec Inc.

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