In DMD, a powder nozzle coaxially feeds metal powder into the laser beam onto an existing surface. The process can be completely automated and even works with laser systems with an average output of only 300 watts.
It can be used on three-dimensional surfaces and lends itself to a wide range of uses: enhancing surfaces, modifying shapes, and restoring damaged forming, punching, and injection molding tools and dies to a like-new condition.
The enormous benefits of this additive manufacturing process have also won over the midsized company of HWF, a tool and mold making company in Eppertshausen, near Frankfurt, Germany. One of the challenges that HWF faces is that of building up a structure measuring 300 x 20 x 20 mm (i.e. with a volume of 120,000 mm³) on a typical mold material (AISI H11, one of the internationally most-used hot-working steels and extremely wear-resistant).
In the past, structures like this were built up layer by layer with wire-fed laser cladding to avoid the risks of cracks, deformation, and altered metallurgical properties. The welder took between 60 and 80 hours to complete the task.