All the many different levels of 3D printing technology can be an immersive, multi-faceted study–and researchers at University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering are about to experience it further with not just one generous grant from America Makes, but two. This will make a total of $2.3 million that faculty at the university have received to date, with the two current amounts coming to a cumulative total of $1.7 million, split between Albert To, Ph.D., and M. Ravi Shankar, Ph.D.
Working for the good of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, America Makes is comprehensive in their role as the ‘national accelerator’ for 3D printing. Headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio, and very involved in working with higher learning institutions, the goal of America Makes is to increase the nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness through their efforts in facilitating further research and development–and then to bridge the gap between that and commercialization.
With these two new grants awarded to the Swanson School of Engineering, the faculty researchers will be working to improve designs for 3D printed structures. Overall, this project is led by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), which is America Makes, and works to collaborate with a variety of organizations such as those in the government or academic insititutions like the University of Pittsburgh to present comprehensive, optimized manufacturing solutions for defense systems of the future.
Dr. Alfred To is an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. He functions as a principal investigator in collaboration with numerous entities–Aerotech, ANSYS, EOS of North America, ExOne, Honeywell, Marcus Machinery, Materials Sciences Corporation, RTI International Metals (Alcoa Titanium & Engineered Products), United Technologies Research Center, and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center.
Receiving a $961,112 contract, Dr. To will be continuing research that has already begun, as the funding is an extension of monies already received in support of his research.
“AM technologies are capable of producing very complex geometries and topologies, tremendously expanding the limited design space allowed by traditional manufacturing methods. However, existing CAD/CAE software packages to date have not taken full advantage of this enormous design freedom,” Dr. To explained. “We plan to create an integrated design suite that can be rapidly commercialized, thereby helping industry minimize design time, lower manufacturing cost, and reduce time to market for new AM product development.”
Dr. Shankar is an associate professor of industrial engineering at the university. He works in the capacity of principal investigator of “Parametric Design of Functional Support Structures for Metal Alloy Feedstocks.” For this project and $805,966 contract, Dr. Shankar is collaborating with ITAMCO, Johnson & Johnson, and the University of Notre Dame.
“Support structures play two important roles in additive manufacturing – holding a part in place, and dissipating heat during manufacturing. However, these structures are very simple and few rules exist for designing them,” Dr. Shankar said. “We want to codify the design rules for support structures used in Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) to inform and then automatically recommend the optimal part orientation and the designs for optimized supports. Also, by better controlling the design, we can more effectively draw away the heat during manufacturing and minimize distortion.”
- Non-government agencies
- Workforce and economic development resources
With nearly 45 different institutes following their model, they are driven to continue in their research and development by the NCDMM. These latest grants were part of the third call from America Makes, which we reported on earlier in the year as they announced the program.
Discuss your thoughts on these latest grants to further and accelerate the advent of 3D printing in US industry in the University of Pittsburgh Receives $1.7 Million Grant forum thread over at 3DPB.com.