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New mechanical engineering research highlights global rise of AM

21 September 2017
Research to test durability of additive manufacturing technology

3D-printed parts are not new but their use is set to explode among key industries including those in the aerospace, automotive and biomedical sectors.

Additive manufacturing at work

Additive manufacturing at work

New and emerging technologies including three-dimensional (3D) printing offer massive benefits for industry, including increased productivity and reduced costs.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the general term applied to the components built by 3D printing, where 3D physical parts and models are created directly from digital data.

After intensive research and development, rapid tooling applications have been developed by employing AM technology in the fabrication of tools, dies and moulds. AM also has been used to produce prototype parts with desired properties for evaluation and testing, as well as to manufacture small or medium quantities of end-use products.

However, from the birth of AM technology up to now, trustworthiness and durability of AM parts is still not completely reliable. Specifically, mechanical properties of these AM parts are slightly different from those manufactured via traditional methods.

It is therefore a big challenge for industries to trust AM technology for critical components and structures in aerospace, automotive, and biomedical.

This is where Hoda Eskandari hopes her research as part of her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) can make a difference.

“The ultimate goal of my research is to improve mechanical properties involved with Additive Manufacturing (AM), specifically fatigue performance by eliminating induced defects mostly by applying post processing,” Hoda said.

“Briefly, my project is focused on a Stainless Steel (SS) manufactured by Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). Mechanical behaviour of this material is compared to standard stainless steel in order to improve the 3D printed parts in terms of quality and performance.

“By improving the properties of such AM parts, this technology could apply in sectors such as aerospace, where for airlines the advantages are substantial, including finding spare parts quickly and of course lighter and stronger parts, resulting in massive weight and cost savings.”

Hoda’s research underscores the need to spread this technology particularly in Australia as the AM market is on the rise globally.

“The key to the successful implementation of AM into the real world is to have a good understanding of the technology, which is possible by collaborating of research and development part and industries,” Hoda added.

“By following the growth of this technology, AM is likely to become inseparable part of human life in the early future and probably, 3D printing shops will pop-up in different places to help people to access them any time they need in a short leading time with trustworthy quality.

“Surprisingly the next generation of this technology is 4D printing which looks to create structures that changes shapes at a later time when interacting with the new conditions.”