ACCESS-3DP is a transnational project funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

The project aims at taking Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) as a new, disruptive technology under the umbrella of Advanced Manufacturing in order to set out frameworks to train and upskill workers in the craft and creative industries.

It is implemented by 5 different organisations in France, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

3DP in the tooling industry: LENS technology

CORDA Orodjarna d.o.o. is a production company focused on innovative and advanced technologies.  The main focus is on multi-material tooling components for the automotive sector, done by the unique LENS technology in laser cladding.

The company CORDA – ORODJARNA d.o.o. was founded in 1992 and, in its strategy, intends to control several production and service companies networked with similar activity. It is one of the leading Slovenian tooling companies and is specialist in three types of laser treatment (i.e. laser hardening, laser welding and LENS technology), and offers and develops solutions for a wide range of metal fabrication & repair applications with the state-of-the-art laser technology for all industrial areas.
LENS (Laser Engineered Net Shaping) is a protected name for laser technology, a direct deposition or application of metal or alloy to the substrate (Direct Metal Deposition System). This technology has recently advanced significantly to the level of commercialization and is becoming increasingly important. The advantage of the technology is that it can relatively quickly produce completely concentrated metal products with good metallurgical or mechanical properties. At LENS, a high-power laser beam (up to 4 kW or even more) is used to melt metal particles (dust). The metal powder is fed into the laser beam coaxially via a specially shaped head (C). The laser beam directs one or more lenses (B), with the workbench XY (D) forming layer after layer of the product by moving the laser head in the vertical direction for the thickness of the applied coating. Newer versions of this technology use fiber optics to transmit the laser beam, while older versions use a more straightforward mirror system (E). The inert gas (Ar) under controlled pressure (G) ensures that the droplets of molten metal powder (A) are applied evenly and thinly to the substrate. An additional gas curtain (F) provides additional protection against oxidation. The products are made near the final shape (Near-Net Shape) from various metals and alloys with this process. The most common is a tool and stainless steel, Ni-based superalloys (e.g., Inconel, Hasteloy, Ni-Al, etc.), Cu-based alloys (Cu-Ni). Reactive metals such as Ti and its alloys (TiAl6V4, Ti-Al), Al, Mg, and others are particularly suitable for fabrication with this technology. Of particular interest are also wear-resistant alloys based on W and Co (Stellite, Hardox, etc.). These materials are applied mainly in thin layers on machine parts of forming tools, mining tools, pump rotor blades, turbine blades, etc., or on the work surface of different rollers. After final production, the product usually needs to be machined.

Advantage of LENS technology: Rapid change of powder composition and production of gradient materials, repairs, such as repair welding of castings, worn machine parts, compared to SLS or DMLS, the process has fewer restrictions, we can produce products from a broader range of metallic materials, the properties of the products are better because they are not porous and have a fine-grained microstructure.