Additive Manufacturing Strategies

ExOne Binder Jet 3D Printing to Be Advanced at Pennsylvania Universities

ST Medical Devices

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When it comes to binder jet 3D printing, ExOne is a pioneer of the technology, excelling especially with metals and composite materials, like sand. Now, the company will be partnering with some Pennsylvania universities to work on five projects with the purpose of advancing binder jetting, thanks to funding from the Manufacturing PA Innovation Program.

“The Manufacturing PA program is helping ExOne to expand our research and development efforts in important ways with the assistance of Pennsylvania’s outstanding universities and other technology companies. The projects funded by this program will help ExOne unlock the commercial and sustainability value that binder jet 3D printing has to offer, such as delivering lighter weight vehicles that are more fuel-efficient as well as all-new innovations,” stated ExOne CEO John Hartner.

Several projects previously funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development aim to transform manufacturing. These are great examples of the kinds of innovative student/manufacturer projects that can be funded through the new PA Manufacturing Fellows Initiative. (Image: Manufacturing PA Innovation Program)

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has awarded a total of $2.8 million to universities in the state. The initiative will pair undergraduate and graduate students with local manufacturers, to collaborate on 43 projects meant to expand advanced manufacturing technologies in Pennsylvania. Five of these projects are specifically focused on binder jet 3D printing, which is why ExOne is the chosen partner.

“Manufacturing PA allows for collaboration between incredible minds and incredible manufacturing companies. These partnerships engage Pennsylvania’s educational facilities and the business sector across the commonwealth to position our state for continued manufacturing innovation and success,” said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin.

The X1 160PRO from ExOne.

According to an ExOne press release, its 3D printers have been researched the most in the binder jet 3D printing sector. Presently, ExOne can print with over 20 ceramics, composites, and metals, and these five Manufacturing PA-funded research projects could grow the technology, and expand the material selection, even further. The teams will work to solve challenges related to sintering, printing irregular and porous powders, and finding parts that could benefit from binder jetting.

First, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) will work on a project called “Binder Jet 3D Printing from Powder Produced by Metal Attrition,” focusing on optimizing the print parameters for binder jetting, as well as making irregularly shaped powders more dense. CMU also received funding for a project it is working on with ANSYS and Kennametal, the inaugural beta customer for ExOne’s X1 25PRO. The goal of this project, “Optimal Parts Consolidation and Structural Redesign for Additive Manufacturing to Reduce Weight, Production Costs, and Lifecycle Fuel Use,” is to help manufacturers reduce production costs and make current parts more lightweight, but still functional, by developing a new software tool. This tool will enable CAD files of large-scale systems to be uploaded, and will identify components and subsystems automatically that could be optimized and consolidated using binder jet 3D printing.

Impellers on X1 25PRO Build Box (Image: Sarah Saunders for 3DPrint.com)

“Advanced Manufacturing of Ceramics for PA Industries,” a project by Penn State, will use binder jetting to create a new class of ceramic materials, with features like toughness, high-temperature stability, and corrosion resistance that will make them viable for several applications. The University of Pittsburgh is also working with Ansys on “A Computational Tool for Simulating the Sintering Behavior in Binder Jet Additive Manufacturing,” to develop a computational tool that will simulate the porosity and deformation that occurs from sintering binder jet 3D printed 316L stainless steel powder parts. Finally, Villanova University will research the best way to wet porous particles with binder material in its “Wetting of Binder Solution on Porous Bed of Microparticles” project, along with creating parameters or guidelines for binder jetting.

Hartner said, “We strongly value our relationships with the academic R&D community, and we appreciate their support enhancing our competitiveness and advancing this important 3D printing field. We congratulate our partners and all of the other universities and companies receiving Manufacturing PA Innovation funding.”

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