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Penn State receives U.S. Navy grant for super-finishing of 3D-printed metal parts

June 13, 2018
Source: ASM International

State University, University Park, announces that its researchers have received more than $535,000 to install a state-of-the-art “super-finishing lab” for 3D-printed metal parts. The new lab will complement the existing subtractive processing technology in the Factory for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) Lab within the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

Together the equipment will provide the subtractive processing capability necessary to transform printed parts into components ready for product assembly. The equipment in the FAME Lab will be used for both the instruction of engineering students and academic research.

Funding for the one-year project, titled “Super Finishing of Printed Metallic Parts for High Performance Naval Systems,” is being provided by the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program, which operates through the Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research.

Ed DeMeter, a professor in the Marcus department, is the principal investigator on the project. “The Navy has a strong interest in identifying and researching the technical issues of using 3D-printed metal parts for naval applications now and in the future,” says Prof. De Meter. “They want to better understand how to design parts while identifying potential barriers and also benefits that may arise between the metal printing process and any secondary processing that is done to smooth out the surface texture of these parts.”

Metal parts can be printed to near net shape, but require thermal processing to improve their material properties, and hard-tool machining to remove supports and create functional surfaces.

Prof. De Meter says the group’s focus of the initial research proposal is threefold. First and foremost, it is to establish expertise on how parts made by additive manufacturing processes will react when they are super finished and installed in complex assemblies. That general processing knowledge could then be shared via best practices to the overall community because such public information does not currently exist.

Second, the team wants to look into the finishing of metal parts that feature tight lattice structures to find out if the processes are able to polish some of their intricate passageways. The third component is education. The vision of the team is to create graduate-level courses that could be offered online to employees of those companies who use the finishing processes on 3D-printed metal parts.

Subject Classifications

Industries and Applications | Aerospace and Defense

Materials Processing and Treatment | Additive Manufacturing

Materials Processing and Treatment | Machining and Finishing

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