French industrial 3D printer provider AddUp has entered into a $2.7 million cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), to develop metal additive manufacturing materials processes for tooling.
The partners will focus on advancing laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) technology for novel metal molds used in tooling.
Advancing Laser Powder Bed Fusion
As the additive manufacturing venture of French industrial engineering group Fives and Michelin, AddUp utilizes LPBF, Directed Energy Deposition (DED), and Electron Beam Melting (EBM) systems to produce industrial parts. Moreover, ORNL, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), conducts scientific programs that focus on materials, neutron science, energy, computing, systems biology, and national security.
AddUp is currently present at the DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at ORNL centers for the development of industrial LPBF technology for tooling applications. More specifically, the deposition rate within powder bed technologies will be monitored to closely control metallurgical processes and manage the qualification of steel tooling components.
Furthermore, the CRADA seeks to expedite the delivery of validated additive manufacturing process recipes and provide deepened comprehension of the microstructural properties of 3D printable tool steels. This will enable the fabrication of complex mold and die tooling.
Complex cooling channels
The partners will also investigate solutions for the geometric constraints concerning tooling within mass production environments. This includes overhang angles, thin walls, process repeatability, and challenges that are present in the plastic injection molding which can be overcome using complex cooling channels.
Most recently, ORNL entered into a five-year CRADA with the award-winning 3D printer OEM GE Additive for processes, materials, and software development, accelerating the industrialization of additive manufacturing technology.
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Featured image shows members of the Oak Ridge National Laboratories and AddUp team collaborate to target the advancement of materials processes for metal additive manufacturing tooling applications. Photo via AddUp/ORNL.