Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory    



Laser Forming and Laser Correction of Distortions


Laser Forming and Laser Correction of Distortions

Laser forming (LF) of sheet metal components and tubes requires no hard tooling and external forces and therefore suited for die-less rapid prototyping and low-volume, high-variety production of sheet metal and tube components.  It has potential applications in aerospace, shipbuilding, automobile, and other industries.  It can also be used for correcting and repairing sheet metal components, such as, pre-welding “fit-up” and post-welding “tweaking.”  Laser tube bending involves no wall thinning, little ovality, and annealing effects, which makes it easier to work on high work-hardening materials such as titanium and nickel super-alloys.  Groups let by Prof. Vollertsen in Germany as well as at University of Liverpool in UK did much research on LF. 

Our focus has been on (1) extending the LF capability from simple 2D shapes to general 3D shapes, especially double-curved shape; (2) prediction of microstructure change and its effects on deformation; and (3) extending from process analysis to process synthesis and optimization.  Supported by a grant under the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) at NIST, we teamed with GE Global Research, Caterpillar Tech Center and other two companies and embarked on a project on laser forming of complex shapes.