News & Views

EWI Builds World-Class Additive Manufacturing Capabilites

By Steve Massey on Monday, December 5th, 2016


Over the course of the past few years, EWI has assembled a world-class team of engineers, supported by millions of dollars in equipment, with a focus on metals additive manufacturing (AM). Metals AM, or 3D metal printing, is a rapidly growing and changing industry that requires expertise in many areas that directly align with our 30+ years of experience in materials joining. Our goal is to enable broader adoption of metals AM by industry through the development, innovation, and demonstration of critical technologies along the AM value chain.

EWI laser powder bed fusion samples

Samples created on the EOS M280 L-PBF machine

Inspection of complex AM structures

Inspection of complex AM structures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When someone hears “3D printing,” it typically evokes a mental image of someone sitting at a computer, clicking print, and ending up with some sort of plastic trinket from a desktop 3D printer. When you consider additive manufacturing, much more goes in to that than simply clicking print. There are many considerations that need to be made when implementing a metals AM process. Some of these are:

Tungsten powder after spherodization

Tungsten powder after spherodization

Tungsten powder before spherodization

Tungsten powder before spherodization

  • Feed stock characteristics – powder, wire, or strip
  • Path planning
  • Material properties
  • Design optomization
  • Thermal history
  • Residual stress and distortion
  • Heat treatment
  • Post build inspection
  • Finishing and dimensional control

All of the considerations relative to metals AM are covered within our three main research and development focus areas:

  • Material and process development
    • Component design as it relates to the process that will be used
    • Feedstock characterization and development
    • Process parameter and heat treatment development
    • Material performance
    • Modeling
    • Microstructure modification
    • Multi-materials
  • Advancements for AM machines
    • Using robotic equipment for the purpose of large scale AM
    • Altering the laser beam path
    • Techniques for improving productivity
    • Deploying multiple processes to achieve a mix of productivity and precision
  • Quality assessment
    • Inspection of complex parts — x-ray computed tomography
    • Methods of creating flaws to test inspection methods
    • Surface characterization
    • Process monitoring and control
    • Post-build processing
additive manufacturing machines at EWI

Some of the AM machines at EWI

The metals AM equipment that our experts use in support of our customers’ research and development projects is second to none. The equipment includes:

 

  • Arcam A2X – electron beam powder bed fusion (EB-PBF or EBM™)
  • EOS M280 – laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF or DMLS™)

More important than the breadth of equipment in which we have invested are the talented and experienced engineers and technicians on staff that are equipped to push the capabilities of the technology and develop implementable solutions for our customers.

For more information about EWI’s AM capabilities, contact Frank Medina at fmedina@ewi.org or Steve Massey at smassey@ewi.org.

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