Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a fast-developing manufacturing technology that has evolved from a rapid prototyping tool to a production technology playing a pivotal role in Industry 4.0 by enhancing competitiveness as well as creating new trends. AM refers to bottom-up methods of manufacturing through layer-by-layer material deposition.
There are 7 types of AM technologies that the ISO has recognised. Among the AM technologies, Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) or Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) has been shown to be one of the most promising AM metal processes due to its versatility; it can produce high-resolution metal components with complex shapes in a range of metals, which would otherwise be difficult to manufacture with conventional manufacturing technologies. L-PBF systems produce parts by distributing metal powder across the build plate and scanning the selected areas provided by the CAD design, converted into 2D slice format with a laser. The platform is then lowered by one layer height, and a new layer of powder is spread on the build plate by a re-coater blade. The laser then melts the powder layer, and a new layer is deposited. The process repeats layer-by-layer until the part is complete.
AM expands the design space for the complex objects, enabling exploration of new material properties, optimisation of components and parts; thus, it is projected to change the configuration of both local and global supply chains. AM also helps in the reduction of the manufacturing process in comparison to traditional manufacturing techniques. However, AM design methodologies have not yet been established completely. Many developments have been seen in the standard specification committee.
Additive Manufacturing in SEAM
Additive manufacturing allows for the production of advanced components that (a) would not be possible to manufacturing using traditional manufacturing techniques, (b) has increased functionality, and (c) is topologically optimised and lightweight. SEAM has expertise in metal additive manufacturing (AM) and is always happy to assist industry in developing their products and services through the use of AM. Through a suite of AM machines and experimental methodologies, SEAM can manufacture and validate parts in a wide range of materials.
Innovation Projects and Prototyping
SEAM has successfully completed a number of innovation projects with industrial partners funded by Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership Project funding. We also help companies with prototyping of parts; this can often be funded through Innovation Vouchers from Enterprise Ireland.
SEAM has vast experience in the area of parameter optimisation for new materials. SEAM has characterised processing windows for materials to control the resulting part quality.
SEAM has conducted projects on material development for use in powder bed fusion systems. This work also incorporates parameter optimisation as well as providing insights into the manufacturing of feedstock material.
SEAM has powder characterisation equipment that can be used to characterise the feedstock material. The powder density, tapped density, flowability and size distribution can be characterised.
SEAM work with other academic institutes to help with research in the area of additive manufacturing.
AM Features (lattices, foams, texturing, design)
SEAM has experience of designing and manufacturing additive manufacturing features, such as lattices, metal foams, textures and design for AM.
Ongoing research and innovation projects
- E-BAMBI: Enhanced Biocompatibility of Additively Manufactured Biomedical Implants for Improved Clinical Outcomes
- Evaluation of the metal additive manufacturing process through the study of the recyclability of metal powders and in-situ metrology
- Structure-Property Relationship of Additively Manufactured Magnesium Alloys
- Development of Internal Features and Measurement Methodologies for Additively Manufactured Parts
- Development of additively manufactured biomedical devices with enhanced functionality
- Embedding and integrating sensors in metal additive manufacturing