New Shining new light on laser additive manufacturing of powders using synchrotron imaging

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is hailed as one of the top disruptive technologies as it is a radical departure from the traditional manufacturing approaches of casting, thermomechanical processing, machining and joining. This potentially transformative technology, allowing unprecedented design freedom, allows components to be built layer by layer from powder aided by laser power. Tremendous success has already been achieved by 3D-printing using plastics for medical and engineering prototype applications. However, large-scale alloy component production in metals using AM has only broken into a few niche markets, one of them medical implants, including the titanium joint replacements (over 100,000 are in patients) aided by developments in Prof. Lee's group. In aerospace applications, AM promises to have a significant economic impact due to elimination of large-scale machining wastage and minimal usage of material via more efficient topological designs of components.
However, understanding and controlling laser-processed powder microstructures is an exemplar for materials science at extreme - very high solidification rates, ultra-fine microstructures, and far-from-equilibrium meta-stable phase formation. There is a critical need for both experimental and modelling acumen to advance the field, resulting in new inventions.
These extreme processing conditions lie at the heart of the challenge to implement and readily use AM for metal/alloy component manufacturing. It is a rapidly evolving branch of materials manufacturing, rich in exciting problems and demanding an array of advanced equipment and characterization techniques. Manchester is world leading in developing in situ synchrotron characterisation techniques for directly observing the molten pool during laser powder AM, having developed the first rig to perform such experiments. During the PhD the student will first use this existing rig on new materials / conditions, and then help develop a second generation rig for alternative processes such as blown powder laser AM. They will combine this unique capability with more traditional microscopy (optical and EM) and mechanical testing techniques. They will also perform correlative optical and thermal imaging, and working collaboratively with students at Sheffield, scale up the new fundamental insights using the £3m in newly purchased flexible research AM machines there.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509565/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1879296 Studentship EP/N509565/1 18/09/2017 30/11/2018 Lorna Sinclair