Advance Metal 3D Printing Technology in the works to forward automotive, energy, and biomedical applications

March 25, 2023 | Metallurgical Lab

Researchers from the University of Toronto Engineering, led by Professor Yu Zou, MSE, are working to produce and advance metal additive manufacturing (AM) technology.

Researchers developed the technology by using computer-aided design (CAD) to construct materials layer by layer. Contrary to traditional manufacturing, a combination of selective laser melting (SLM) and directed energy deposition (DED) will be the focus of the metal 3D printing features. These will enable the printing of microstructures and material constitutions to be locally tailored.

Xiao Shang, an MSE PhD candidate of the team discusses the features, “The 3D Printing process makes it possible for example, medical implants that require human bone-like materials that needed to be dense and hard on the outside but also porous from within. In 3D metal printing, controlling and customizing these products may be more accessible as compared to traditional manufacturing.

“Additive Manufacturing contains features that can go beyond conventional techniques. These include the fabrication of complex geometries, rapid prototyping and customization of designs, and precise control of the material properties,”  adds Tianyi Lyu, another MSE Ph.D. candidate from the team.

Currently, Zou’s lab is focused on research to better understand SLM and DED printing processes. They concentrate on processes of AM in advanced steels, nickel-based superalloys, and high entropy alloys. The team hopes to forward the study and explore titanium and aluminum alloys in the future.

To this end, the team is actively working to learn about and apply machine learning and computer vision and have it incorporated to create a fully autonomous close-loop controlled 3D Metal printing system. The aim of the system is to detect and correct defects that would otherwise emerge in AM parts.

Zou’s labs are partnered with various organizations since its inception, including National Research Council Canada (NRC), and many Canadian companies, including Oetiker Limited, Mech Solutions Ltd., EXCO Engineering, and Magna International.

Zou expressed his belief in the newly developed technology, saying, “Metal 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing as we know it. With robust autonomous systems, the cost of operating these systems can be dramatically reduced, allowing metal additive manufacturing to be adopted more widely across industries worldwide.”

He adds, “The process also reduces materials and energy waste, leading towards a more sustainable manufacturing industry.”

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