Since 1987, the UTBM (Belfort-Montbéliard University of Technology), through its laboratory LERMPS (Laboratory of Studies and Research on Materials, Processes and Surfaces) - ICB (Carnot Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Burgundy), is internationally recognized for its work on surface treatments. A pioneer, it has been developing a complementary metal additive manufacturing business for 20 years.
To further its research, the UTBM has just acquired an additive manufacturing machine of the type SLM(Selective Laser Melting) equipped with a "green" laser (with a wavelength of 515 nm).
Representing a total investment of 404k euros, having benefited from the support of the Burgundy Franche County region, this new process is unique in France. It complements a fleet of additive metal manufacturing machines SLM , in addition to other processes.
It is indeed the first system of its kind acquired in France (another is currently operating for rent in the Paris region). To date, there are only seven in the world.
Particularly suitable for alloys absorbing little laser radiation, such as copper for example, this equipment allows, thanks to the specific wavelength of its power laser, to merge them and thus to develop parts. Copper absorbs about 3 times more energy from the "green" laser at 515 nm wavelength of this equipment, compared to the commonly used 1060 nm infrared lasers. The result is a much better metallurgical quality, among other gains.
This equipment reinforces the UTBM's 3D printing capabilities of copper and copper alloy components, which has been the subject of research for several years within its teams (development of specific alloys, process development, metallurgical studies, characterization of the properties of the materials thus developed, etc.). It thus complements the range of (micro)manufacturing methods available via the MIFHySTO platform for the shaping of watchmaking alloys in particular. The applications are multiple: thermal sinks, electromagnets, inductors, electronic and watch parts, luxury, etc.
As a first example, more than 20 years of work will have been needed to develop an innovative additive manufacturing process, based on thermal projection, to develop combustion chambers of rocket engines (for the Ariane rocket in particular). This process will, tomorrow, reduce the manufacturing time of a combustion chamber from 6 months today to a few days, while using less strategic materials and increasing the performance of the rooms.
Several years of research have also led to the manufacture of inductors to generate very strong magnetic fields. These developments were directly used to develop, at the UTBM, the components of the system that allowed to generate one of the strongest continuous artificial magnetic fields ever created in the world (37 Tesla in a cavity with a diameter 37 mm), within the LNCMICNRS laboratory located in Grenoble.
The new equipment, now in service, will allow the development of geometry parts that are more complex than those that were available until now. It serves as a support for research, either in its own right or in relation to industrial partners, and will soon find its place in the various specialties teachings given at the UTBM.
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