“The two most commonly-used commercial methods for laser-based metal additive manufacturing technology today are PBF and powder-fed DED. Each has core strengths and can be used for similar projects. So, what we wanted to clarify with this study was when is one method better than the other,” said Lucas Brewer, LENS application development manager at Optomec. “We put both technologies to the same task and were surprised to see such dramatic differences in build time and cost. We believe this type of exercise will help customers better understand the strengths of each approach. We are always striving to help our customers improve build speed and maximize value from their machines.”
Optomec set out to determine the relative print speed and price to build a mid-size (150 mm in diameter, 200 mm tall) metal part made of Inconel. To establish a baseline, a part geometry was selected that could be built without support structures. Production was outsourced to two separate and independent service providers - one for PBF and one DED. A conical shape housing with internal tubular structures was designed for this study. Quoted process parameters, build time and the price to build the part are shown in the following table:
Parameters LENS 850R DED Concept Laser M2 PBF
Laser Power 1200 W 400 W
Layer Thickness 500um 30um
Estimated Build Time (no post processing) 18 hours 240 hours
Quoted Price $3,200 $16,800
Table 1: Process Parameters, Build Time, and Price Quoted by DED and PBF Service Providers
In addition to printing time and cost savings, the equipment purchase price for Optomec LENS DED systems is less than half the cost of equivalent size PBF printers. The full details of the report are available free; click here for the report.
The Optomec LENS family of 3D metal printers has been used in industry for over two decades to cost-effectively repair, rework and manufacture high-performance metal components in materials such as titanium, stainless steel, carbides and nickel based super alloys.