Integrated weld preparation designs for the joining of L-PBF and conventional components via TIG welding
Laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) of entire assemblies is not typically practical for technical and economic reasons. The build size limitations and high production costs of L-PBF make it competitive for smaller, highly complex components, while the less complex elements of an assembly are manufactured conventionally. This leads to scenarios that use L-PBF only where it’s beneficial, and it require an integration and joining to form the final product. For example, L-PBF combustion swirlers are welded onto cast parts to produce combustion systems for stationary gas turbines. Today, the welding process requires complex welding fixtures and tack welds to ensure the correct alignment and positioning of the parts for repeatable weld results. In this paper, L-PBF and milled weld preparations are presented as a way to simplify the Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding of rotationally symmetrical geometries using integrated features for alignment and fixation. Pipe specimens with the proposed designs are manufactured in Inconel 625 using L-PBF and milling. The pipe assembly is tested and TIG welding is performed for validation. 3D scans of the pipes before and after welding are evaluated, and the weld quality is examined via metallography and computed tomography (CT) scans. All welds produced in this study passed the highest evaluation group B according to DIN 5817. Thanks to good component alignment, safe handling, and a stable welding process, the developed designs eliminate the need for part-specific fixtures, simplify the process chain, and increase the process reliability. The results are applicable to a wide range of components with similar requirements.
Published in: Progress in Additive Manufacturing, 10.1007/s40964-021-00221-2, Springer Nature