Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Tennessee, and Ohio-based manufacturer of welding products Lincoln Electric (NASDAQ: LECO), have announced a new agreement to advance the development of large-scale metal additive manufacturing technology.
Established at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing InnovationXLab Summit, the collaboration aims to increase the throughput of large-scale additively manufactured industrial metallic structures like tooling, dies and molds. It also aims to improve the quality and lower the costs of components. Together the organizations plan to achieve these goals by utilizing data analytics, unlocking the rapid manufacturing of metal components in excess of 100 pounds per hour.
“Working with Lincoln Electric is an important step in advancing manufacturing in the U.S.,” ORNL Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Environmental Science Moe Khaleel explained.
“Approximately 60-80% of molds for the manufacturing of metallic components are produced overseas. With this new collaboration, U.S. manufacturers will be able to showcase their ability to manufacture tools, dies and molds additively with reduced costs and lead times while maintaining speed and a quality build.”
Lincoln Electric and ORNL’s ongoing collaboration
Founded in 1895, Lincoln Electric is a multinational designer, developer and manufacturer of arc welding products, as well as robotic arc welding systems, plasma and oxyfuel cutting equipment.
Further to its plans of launching its own metal additive manufacturing service in mid-2019, the company has been collaborating with the Manufacturing Demonstration Team at ORNL for the last three years to develop metal additive manufacturing processes. ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility is supported by the DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), which focuses on helping “early-stage research to advance innovation in U.S. manufacturing and promote American economic growth and energy security.”
With the updated collaboration alongside ORNL, Lincoln looks set to commercialize the processes developed by the two organizations, allowing the U.S. manufacturing sector to benefit from the reduced costs and lead times to additively manufacture metallic tooling.
A series of additive manufacturing developments for ORNL
The development of its collaboration with Lincoln Electric is the latest in a series of updates surrounding ORNL and its efforts in advancing additive manufacturing technology. Earlier in May 2019, leading industrial 3D printer provider ExOne announced it is working with ORNL to advance binder jet technology for sand and metal 3D printers. The two organizations have been working on developing binder jet technology since 2015.
ORNL was also granted $20 million in U.S. federal funding alongside the University of Maine (UMaine) for a joint program to create bio-based 3D material for large-scale additive manufacturing. Also supported by the AMO, the project aims to assist the declining forest products industry in the state, as well as foster a new generation of bio-based 3D printable materials.
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Featured image shows Tom Matthews of Lincoln Electric, left, and ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia signing an agreement to advance large-scale metal additive manufacturing technology. Photo via Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory.