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ORNL introduces updated Slicer 2 LFAM software

To simultaneously speed and simplify the digital conversion of accurate, large-format parts in a factory production setting

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Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed the first additive manufacturing slicing computer application to simultaneously speed and simplify digital conversion of accurate, large-format parts in a factory production setting. The technology, known as Slicer 2, can help widen the use of 3D printing for larger objects made from metallic and composite materials. Objects the size of a house and beyond are possible, such as land and aquatic vehicles and aerospace applications that include parts for reusable space vehicles.

“The quality of a 3D printed object is directly related to the accuracy and complexity of the toolpaths that control the machine’s movements,” said Alex Roschli, researcher at ORNL. “ORNL Slicer 2 software connects directly with various types of 3D printers to create an integrated platform and communicates with sensors to increase print accuracy.”

ORNL introduces updated Slicer 2 LFAM software to simultaneously speed and simplify the digital conversion of accurate large-format parts.
Credit: Alex Roschli/ORNL.

Researchers designed ORNL Slicer 2 with more than 500 settings that control the internal structure, shape, temperature, and other parameters of individual parts, layers, or regions. It also interfaces with simulation software that shows complex heat and stress relationships during the AM process. The software works with pellet thermoplastic, filament thermoplastic, thermoset, concrete, laser wire welding, MIG welding, and blown-powder directed-energy deposition AM systems.

“This connectivity translates into improved machine commands that increase reliability and repeatability of the additive manufacturing process,” said Roschli. “The result of this software is that additive manufacturers can produce large factory parts with fewer machines and less cost than traditional machining methods.”

Research for ORNL Slicer 2 is performed at the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. The MDF, supported by DOE’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office, is a nationwide consortium of collaborators working with ORNL to innovate, inspire, and catalyze the transformation of US manufacturing. ORNL Slicer 2 is an open-source computer program available on GitHub and used by more than 50 equipment manufacturers, industrial end users, and universities.

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