Additive Manufacturing Processes - one of many key and relevant enabling technologies
Additive Manufacturing or 3-D printing is now the fastest growing sector of manufacturing globally, growing at some 16% annually and estimated to reach $3.5 billion in 2015. This is due to the many benefits it offers companies compared to traditional processes in terms of new product development, time to market, waste and product cost.
The research and development focus of this theme will be centred around the three sub-themes:
These three sub-themes have been developed within a structured methodology that is driven by market requirements and opportunities and by the effective use of research staff and resources for the delivery of integrated solutions to the industry partners.
1. Design sub-theme
This sub-theme aims to deliver competitive advantage to industry based on novel research outcomes in the field of design algorithms for optimised additive manufacture. Engineering design is responsible for up to 80% of the manufactured cost of engineered products, and is critical to successful product commercialisation.
Design algorithms for surface topology (geometric distribution of component leading to its mass reduction) and volume topology optimisation (design of lattice structures for mass or thermal conduction reduction) are especially relevant to Additive Manufacturing. It is an emerging technology, and consequently the understanding of fundamental processes is significantly less developed than for traditional manufacturing. This provides a major opportunity to develop a novel design capability for Australian manufacturers protected by intellectual property.
2. Materials and Manufacturing sub-theme
The Materials and Manufacturing sub-theme investigates new relevant industrial materials, both metallic and polymeric, specifically for additive manufacturing processes (including those from sustainable sources), process control and verification and validation of additively manufactured components.
A key challenge in this sub-theme is the development of a biopolymer from renewable biomass that is suitable for additive manufacturing for use in high-value products such as orthopaedic scaffolds and craniofacial implants. Further research will centre on the development of recycled high value metals from traditional manufacturing methods for powder production. The use of recycled materials, especially expensive alloys such as those of titanium, offers an opportunity that invites research into the metallurgical characterisation of recycled materials deposited by additive manufacturing.
3. System Development sub-theme
The use of selective laser melting (SLM) additive technology for industrial serial production and increased market penetration requires a significant increase in productivity and new, robust SLM machines with innovative features such as making parts from multi-materials. It is the later that will be the main focus of the third sub-theme on new system development for additive manufacture. As a consequence this will not only lead to increased fundamental knowledge in laser additive manufacture but can also lead to economic success of manufacturers.
The expected results can be used directly by industrial partners in different ways: