BARRELCLAD - Laser Cladding of large twin barrels

Aim: To implement a cost-efficient process with ensured quality and first-time-right automated production flow including a monitor & control system to coat the inside of twin barrels with laser cladding technology.

Challenges: This project addresses all needs to produce cost-efficiently and without defects for twin barrel applications. At present, wear-resistant coatings are obtained mainly by Plasma Transferred Arc Welding (PTA) which requires a large heat input, resulting in large dilution of substrate in the coating. Laser Cladding presents enormous advantages compared to PTA: less dilution and thinner coatings with increased wear resistance as a result of finer microstructure due to the fast cooling rate of laser cladding. Laser Cladding the inside of barrels is today a process characterized by slow deposition rates, bad monitoring conditions and operator-dependent quality. Despite its large number of benefits such as superior mechanical properties, limited amount of heat input, low amount of dilution and metallurgical bonding, the process is not yet commonly applied in industry, since it needs a large amount of expertise and skills of operators. The project has also to face the challenges associated to the automation of a laser-based process where the quality and reliability of the deposited material strongly depend on guarantying stable optimum parameters during the duration of the complete process.

Benefits: BARRELCLAD ambition is to go beyond the state-of-the-art for creating a wear-resistant coating inside a large twin-barrel. It aims to advance towards an operator-independent, zero-defect process which is cost-efficient. BARRELCLAD will implement an automated production flow including a monitor & control system to coat inside twin barrels with laser cladding technology. The aim of this development is to coat large twin barrels internally with a cost-efficient process with ensured quality and first-time-right.

Activities & Present achievements: The process enhancement will focus on: the development of a custom high-power internal clad nozzle process for coating cost-efficiently; further development of a real-time machine controller to control process and actuation of the complete laser cladding process; use of mid-infrared technology to monitor and control laser process, adapting an existing commercial system requiring the design and manufacture of specific optical elements in the optical path.

Current Status: : All three Deliverables for Stage 1 were completed on time and passed the acceptance criteria. LCV performed a process optimization to increase their productivity up to market conform deposition rate, and ensured a good stability test performance.

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