Dial-up Engineered Microstructures for Advanced Additively Manufactured Metals (DEMAMM)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering

Abstract

This strategic equipment bid is for a facility to unlock the ability to understand control and manipulate metal components that are manufactured by a method called metallic laser powder bed fusion, a type of Additive Manufacturing technique, more well known as 3D Printing. The two instruments and will provide a degree of flexibility not available in commercially available equipment, that is now used in a wide range of industries, including healthcare (i.e. hip implants) or aerospace components, (i.e. fuel injectors on GE Leap engines).

The flexibility offered provides scientists and engineers the ability to change parameters to modify how the metal powders within the machine heat up and solidify. Controlling this heat treatment within the machine provides further control on how the metal performs later in service, through controlling the metals grain size, shape and direction, otherwise known as it's microstructure. Small fine grains characterise hard, strong materials, whereas larger grain sizes provide greater toughness and ductility. Coupling this capability of modifying the heating and cooling of components with the ability to add in other materials through inkjet printing we can also control the components composition. Again, this provides more control to the engineer, giving the ability to change the materials crystal structure, it's constituents and even to produce nano-composites within a metal framework. The third and final element of this bid is that of monitoring the build during manufacture, this can provide real time information on the component's structure as it's being built, enabling a feedback loop to control any defects that might occur within the build and therefore make sure that everything coming off the machine is in specification.

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