Penn State Opens Finishing Lab for Metal 3D Printed Parts

Share this Article

Penn State has been responsible for several intriguing innovations in 3D printing, running the gamut from fashion to bioprinting. Now the university is taking a step forward in metal 3D printing with the installation of what it’s calling a “super finishing lab” for metal 3D printed parts. Penn State received over $535,000 for the lab, which will complement the existing subtractive processing technology in the Factory for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) Lab within the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

The finishing equipment will transform 3D printed parts into components ready for product assembly. The one-year project, called “Super Finishing of Printed Metallic Parts for High Performance Naval Systems,” is being funded by the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program, which operates through the Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research.

Ed De Meter

“The Navy has a strong interest in identifying and researching the technical issues of using 3D-printed metal parts for naval applications now and in the future,” said Ed De Meter, principal investigator on the project and professor in the engineering department. “They want to better understand how to design parts while identifying potential barriers and also benefits that may arise between the metal printing process and any secondary processing that is done to smooth out the surface texture of these parts.”

When a metal part is 3D printed, the work isn’t done after it’s been removed from the build platform. Although parts can be 3D printed to near net shape, they must still be machined to remove supports, and thermal processing is required to improve their material properties.

“Super-finishing processes are used to remove burrs and to smooth surfaces,” said De Meter. “All three post processes are needed to produce parts for demanding national defense applications, which include jet engines and sea vessels.”

Functional parts must have very tight geometric control and a highly smooth surface finish. If a part has rough surfaces and is subject to a great deal of force or vibration, it can crack and fail.

“In parts like those the Navy uses, there are a number of internal passageways involved,” De Meter explained. “If the part is printed and the finish of the passageway is rough, it’s going to interfere with the flow; or if there are loose particles from the printing process in any crevice of the part, and they break free during the application, it can cause not only the part to fail but the entire system to fail.”

There are three main areas of focus for the project, said De Meter. First, the team wants to establish expertise on how additively manufactured parts react when super finished and installed in complex assemblies. That knowledge could then be shared with the community, as that information is not currently out there, according to De Meter. Second, the team wants to study the finishing of metal parts with tight lattice structures to find out if the processes can polish some of the intricate passageways of the parts.

“If we find out there are deficiencies in finishing these parts, which we suspect there will be, that’s where we will want to work on process development,” said De Meter.

Finally, there’s an educational component to the research. The team hopes to create graduate-level courses that could be offered online to employees of the companies that use the finishing processes on metal 3D printed parts.

“It’s more convenient and economical for these employees to take some courses online than it would be for a company to pick up the cost of sending them off-site to learn about these technologies,” said De Meter.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the comments below. 

[Images: Penn State]

 

Facebook Comments

Share this Article


Related Articles

Post-Processing Enabling Additive Manufacturing

University of Pittsburgh Develops Depowdering Machine for Metal Printing



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Penn State: 4D Printing with Wood Composites for Architectural Applications

In ‘Designing for Shape Change: A Case study on 3D Printing Composite Materials for Responsive Architectures,’ Elena Vazquez, Benay Gursoy, and Jose Duarte present details on customizing parts to optimize...

3D Printing News Briefs: March 16, 2019

We’re starting with 3D software and medical 3D printing in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, and then moving on to stories about some cool 3D printed projects. Sinterit has updated...

3D Printing News Briefs: February 22, 2019

We’ve got some exciting dental news to share first in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs – Stratasys just announced its new full-color dental 3D printer at LMT Lab Day. Moving...

A3DM Technologies and GPA Innova Advancing Post-Processing of Metal 3D Printed Parts with Unique Process

Vermont-based A3DM Technologies, which has long contributed to multiple commercial 3D printing production processes, and GPA Innova, founded in 2015 in Barcelona, recently entered into a collaborative research and development agreement...


Training


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Print Services

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!