This Major Research Instrumentation award will develop a unique additive manufacturing (AM) system to fabricate freeform parts with advanced materials. AM, the process of directly depositing a 3D solid object from a digital model, makes it possible to produce virtually any geometric complexity with very little impact on cost but current AM technologies have not achieved their full potential. This project will develop the research infrastructure to advance AM technologies, with the focus on capacities that differ from conventional manufacturing processes, such as the ability to create materials with properties not generally observed in nature and structures with multiple materials. These capabilities will lead to breakthrough manufacturing technologies, such as producing much stronger and lighter products that cannot be currently made and repairing parts so that they have enhanced strength. Graduate and undergraduate students will be directly involved in the instrumentation design and integration, thereby training the next generation of instrumentalists. AM2 design concepts will be used for team design projects in senior and graduate courses and the instrumentation will be integrated with research projects for the NSF REU Additive Manufacturing site and GAAN Doctoral Research and Training in Direct Digital Manufacturing. The instrumentation will also be available for use by industry and other institutions through the Center for Aerospace Manufacturing Technology.
This project will establish the critical research infrastructure to effectively fabricate novel materials through a high performance deposition system, real-time monitoring and control, and the knowledge required to control the process. Development efforts will focus on advances in the high speed deposition mechanism, substrate liquid cooling design, chamber cooling strategy, elemental material delivery system and sensor integration. The developed system will enable researchers to 1) investigate freeform fabrication of materials that are several times harder and stronger than stainless steels; 2) investigate freeform fabrication of materials that can potentially integrate multiple materials with traditionally incompatible properties into one unified part; and to repair structures to be stronger than their original condition which will revolutionize remanufacturing products; 3) fabricate parts using elemental powders so that real-time material customizability can be achieved; 4) enhance and validate critical multi-scale and multi-physics modeling and analysis for AM processes; 5) develop novel advanced manufacturing applications; and 6) greatly enhance several existing research and education AM projects. The instrumentation will be available to industry through the Center for Aerospace Manufacturing Technology to facilitate collaboration and technology transfer.