September 20, 2013
In the course of my diligent efforts to keep you good people up to date on the state of additive manufacturing (AM), I come across many interesting news items. I’ll gather them up every so often and present them in a Rapid Ready Roundup (like this one). You can find the last Roundup here.
As might be gathered from the header, today’s Roundup is all about research news. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has handed out $7.4 million in grants for continuing AM research. Out of the total, $5 million will go to NAMII and the other $2.4 million to Northern Illinois University (NIU).
NAMII, which recently issued a second call for projects, received the grant as project lead for a “Holistic Approach to Solving Measurement Science Challenges in Additive Manufacturing.” The main thrust of the project is to develop practices to ensure the quality of parts built using AM. This includes developing in-process sensing and monitoring capabilities, nondestructive evaluation techniques for post-manufacturing inspection, and the establishment of a 3D Quality Certificate.
NIU, meanwhile, is project lead for the “Development and Validation of Physics-Based Additive Manufacturing Models For Process Control and Quality Assurance.” The goal of this project is to develop a suite of integrated tools to monitor process control and assist with 3D printed parts qualification. A complete description of project goals comes from the award page:
This project combines innovative experimental and numerical modeling methods to provide a high level of confidence in the quality of AM-produced parts. It will provide a direct measurement capability of critical process metrics that control microstructural and mechanical properties. Process insights gained through the project’s modeling efforts, led by Northwestern, will improve design efforts and, at the same time, expand the range of capabilities of AM equipment.
Moving on, the Missouri University of Science and Technology has received multiple grants equaling over $1 million from NASA to develop stronger 3D printing materials. The project uses computer simulation along with hands-on research, including finishing AM-built objects with CNC machining. Researchers are looking into the potential for creating new alloys for AM, such as a copper/steel mix, to build stronger, lighter parts for aerospace applications.
In addition, the research intends to discover how layers of metal bond to each other and with the surface on which they are deposited. This information could be used to predict metal fatigue for parts, and for expensive dies and molds.
“In many aerospace or biomedical applications, you cannot afford metal fatigue, or cracking of the material,” said Dr. Frank Liou, director of the university’s Laser Aided Manufacturing Process (LAMP) Laboratory. “It is important to understand how well a deposited metal bonds to the surface.”
Last, we turn to some news from outside the US. Singapore has announced it will invest $30 million in an AM research center at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The center will kick off its opening with an international competition with top prizes worth $10,000.
“The NTU Additive Manufacturing Centre builds on NTU’s strong R&D capabilities to grow a competitive Additive Manufacturing industry in Singapore,” said Julian Ho, assistant managing director, Economic Development Board. “By training students and collaborating with industry on R&D, we hope the centre will enable companies in Singapore to take advantage of this exciting technology as they develop better products. In the longer term, we see additive manufacturing as one of the disruptive technologies which will ensure that our manufacturing industry remains globally competitive.”
Below you’ll find a video discussing the foundation of NAMII.