A $2.7 million cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) between AddUp Group, a global machine and solutions provider for metal additive manufacturing (AM), and the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) aims to advance laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) technology for the manufacturing of metal molds with complex geometries for the tooling industry. By improving the deposition rate within powder bed technologies, closely controlling the metallurgical processes, and managing the qualification of steel tooling components, this project is expected to advance metal 3D printing overall.
CRADA will focus on the development of solutions for the geometric constraints and limitations (i.e. overhang angles, thin walls, process repeatability) that impede metal AM from becoming a widely adopted method of manufacturing for tooling and mass production environments. For example, many challenges are present in the plastic injection molding industry which can be overcome by using complex cooling channels. AddUp and ORNL aim to deliver a technology capable of improving pre-existing processes of manufacturing conformally cooled molds with optimized mechanical properties, productivity, and quality for enhanced performance in-high volume production environments.
The CRADA will expedite the delivery of validated AM process recipes and greater comprehension of the microstructural properties of AM tool steels.
AddUp provides an approach to metal 3D printing that is fortified by the inherited expertise of its two founders, Fives and Michelin. The AddUp Group, with health, safety, and the environment at the core of its concerns, offers multiple integrated technologies, capabilities, and comprehensive solutions including machines and systems, training and consulting, design for AM, and proof of concept. ORNL contributes an in-depth understanding of material properties and process parameters that leverages in-situ data analytics and advanced machine learning tools.