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$350k grant for 3D printing research developing topology optimization – 3D Printing Industry

by • August 17, 2016 • No Comments

The widespread use of 3D printing by developers for production became a step nearer now a days. The University of Pittsburgh succeded in a $350,000 grant to create versions that can, “mitigate the distortions and stresses inherent” in current additive making systemes and creates on absorbing work that combines nature with science.
This grant brings the total funding for additive making research succeded in by the university’s Swanson School of Engineering since 2014 to $7.2 million. Lead researcher on the most new project, professor Albert To, took time out to answer a few inquiries of the research for 3DPI.
The upcoming of making
Even with a few forecasts valuing the 3D printing market at $40 billion by 2020, this is a tiny fraction of the $12 trillion global making industry. But, this sector is increasingly returning to favor while fall-out of the previous decade’s financial crisis erodes economic value.
Manufacturing value introduced by significant countries (Chart courtesy of Congressional Research Service)Manufacturing value introduced by significant countries (Chart courtesy of Congressional Research Service)
For example, with it’s Area 404, Facebook newly joined the list of software companies like Google who are increasing investment in hardware activities. But, developers seeking to incorporate AM into production and reap the benefits of the innovation must contend with a number of issues. On the flipside, hardware developer Cisco is moving towards a software and cloud based upcoming.
Pittt associate professor and principal investigator on the project Professor Albert To explains, “Optimizing the create to compensate for residual distortion, residual stress, and post-machining requirements can take days or actually months for these parts.”
Algorithms mimic nature
The grant-winning proposal, “Novel Computational Approaches to Address Key Design Optimization Issues for Metal Additive Manufacturing” can be conducted in two stages over the upcoming three years.
During the first stage the group can create a thermomechanics version. Professor To explains:
We can run a series of system simulations on different types of parts and take on to correlate the deformation to system parameters and different types of material properties such as thermal expansion coefficient, Young’s modulus, and yield durablity.
Young’s modulus is a core area of investigation for most researchers involved with meta-materials. It measures a materials response to exerted pressure, or stress, on one plane, and how the material deforms on a rotated plane.
The 2nd phase of the project involves topology optimization. Topology optimization has seen use in the generation of creates for 3D printed antenna and Formula One racing vehicles. The system can outcome in creates that appear really unlike anything a createer may normally propose.
But, characteristics such as durablity or mass can be dramatically improved through the use of optimization algorithms. The algorithm identifies areas of low mechanical stress in a create and can and so remove excess material. In the case of radio antennas the outcomeing create can actually contribute improved range.
Professor To comes with the mechanics of nano and bio-materials one of his research interests. This is fitting for the reason frequently the outcomes of topology optimization resemble structures discovered in nature, such as honeycombs or lattices.
Biomimetic is the technical term for a create inspired by nature and To’s previous work investigated the creation of improved polymer composites by mimicking the microstructure discovered in bone. “By utilizing high end mechanic theory, we hope to reduce create optimization of additive manufactured parts to minutes, thereby reducing the time of create life cycle.”
Damping property charts for different types of engineering and effortless materials (Image courtesy of Journal of Mechanics and Physics of Solids)Damping property charts for different types of engineering and effortless materials (Image courtesy of Journal of Mechanics and Physics of Solids)
Professor To describes the approach topology optimization, saying, “We can use a hybrid approach that combines standard freeform optimization and level-set based approach for optimizing for machining features.”
Other participants of the research team include Assistant Professor Sanyeop Lee and Adjunct Professor Stephen Ludwick.
The project can work with, “aluminum and titanium alloy” materials and use, “both the direct energy deposition and laser powder bed fusion systemes,” said To.
Prior research demonstrated that by via 3D printing to control the microstructure of a cellar structure it was possible to alter the loading curve of a polymer beam.
Images courtesy of the Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering.Images courtesy of the Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering.
On a undertaking
Understanding and optimizing metal 3D printing techniques is the focus of research across the globe. Businesses and publically funded organizations such as the U.S. military’s high end research lab DARPA are, fuelling what the OECD call the “upcoming production revolution.”
In a new interview with 3DPI the director of DARPA’s Open Manufacturing program explained how the agency is in addition working on the qualification and validation of materials and systemes. The Rapid Low Cost Additive Manufacturing (RLCAM) effort uses:
“A network of physics based versions that version all things of the powder bed to the melt pool, to the laser. We’ve run a series of experiments to calibrate those versions so that we know how these parameters effect the properties and microstructures that are createed inside the metal and include a few of the environment conditions or starting conditions like the powder dimensions or powder chemistries.”
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL) are working on a multi-physics high fidelity versioning approach that draws upon the labs background in difficult computation. LLNL scientists at the federally funded facility first worked on weapon’s projects, such as createing the Polaris nuclear warhead in the fifties
LLNL now work on a broad range of areas, that include work to advance additive making. A new breakthrough was around knowing the cause of porosity in 3D printed metal components and how to manufacture stronger parts. The lab’s motto is, “Science and Technology on a undertaking.”
The National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) spend a portion of their US$1 billion budget on advancing 3D printing. The additive making initiative at NIST has a long-term objective of “qualify as you go.” Work done at the Maryland lab uses high-speed cameras and hyperpixel array hyperspectral imaging. This is a measurement-based approach, pretty than via physics to version the performance of a 3D printing device. The work conducted is complementary to other initiatives and the data collected can be fed into the versions of other organizations.
In the U.S. much of this activity is coordinated by America Makes. The organization host regular forums with industry practitioners and academics and have produced roadmaps for the industrialization of 3D printing. Next month algorithms createed under the program are scheduled for release.
Some of the work undertaken by Professor To’s group in addition benefits of America Makes funding. I asked To how his work ties in with the America Makes’ roadmap and initiatives by other groups such as DARPA’s Open Manufacturing program and LLNL’s work on physics based versions.
“This is one of the most significant create issues described in these roadmaps by America Makes, NIST and others. Each researcher attacks this issue a bit different types ofly.”
Pittsburgh, a 3D printing hotspot?
Given Pittsburgh’s long association with the metal industry it can be unsurprising that the “Steel City” is so involved with the upcoming revolution in making. And although tech companies such as Google or Apple have moved into the void left by the collapse of the local steel industry, the region retains a number of companies in this traditional sector. But, developers now focus on higher value metal products, of that titanium and its alloys are one of the most lucrative.
Pittsburgh Steel Manufacturing in the forties
 (Image via)Pittsburgh Steel Manufacturing in the forties
(Image via loc.gov)
Pittsburgh based RTI International Metals are a significant supplier of titanium mill products and alloys. In July 2015 it was revealed the 65-year-old company may become a strategic investor in Norsk Titanium. As previously reported by 3DPI, Norsk Titanium can invest $1 billion over the upcoming ten years assembling factories capable of 3D printing large-scale components for the aerospace industry.
RTI itself was acquired by Alcoa in March last year. Alcoa are a significant company in the metals industry and already valued at over $13 billion. The company are in addition targeting the 3D printing market and opened a $60 million plant in Pittsburgh in July this year.
But industrial ventures are not the just metal activity in the area. During 2015 the University of Pittsburgh succeded in several grants of America Makes. The Swanson School of engineering was awarded a total of $2.3 million by the public-private partnership. Dr. To succeded in a portion of these funds to advance his research. This current work is an extension of earlier funds succeded in of the Research for Advanced Manufacturing in Pennsylvania program (RAMP).
Partnering to provide creates and aid with evaluation of the work is motion control specialist, Aerotech Inc. For the company Stephen Ludwick said:
“The tools createed through this collaboration can allow us to create the difficult parts enabled by additive making with a minimum of trial-and-error and rework. This in turn allows for us to create stiff and lightmass components in our high-speed motion systems that are in addition utilized by other companies engaged in high end making.”
Aerotech manufacture high-throughput gantries and other components utilized to optimize 3D printing through improved precision in the movement of print heads or create trays. The company in addition retails the A3200 controller createed to allow real-time kinematics, or the “geometry of motion.”
Aerotech products include a galvanometer scannerAerotech products include a galvanometer scanner (Image courtesy of Aerotech)
Earlier this month a $503,000 grant of the National Science Foundation was in addition revealed. These funds are for investigating microstructure formation in metals and alloys. Professor Wiezorek, a mechanical engineer and material scientist at the university, can lead this three-year project. To conduct the research the team can manufacture use of LLNL’s dynamic transundertaking electron microscope (DTEM).
Professor To explains how the university is addressing additive making:
“The investment in state-of-the-art AM facilities created by the University leadership four years ago has produced a variety of research activities such as create optimization, system createment, materials create, system-microstructure-property relationship, and emerging applications. The location of the University is in addition better in that it is relatively effortless to collaborate with local companies interested in AM such as GE CATA, ANSYS, ExOne, Oberg industries, and most others. These industrial collaborations have opened up most research and funding opportunities for our faculty.”
With this 2nd grant announcement in less than a month the University of Pittsburgh adds to it’s reputation as a center for 3D printing research and the outcomes of these most new projects are eagerly anticipated.
Featured image is courtesy of sculptor James Jones, an artist who explores the links between digital information and nature

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