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UH and Texas A&M University partner to provide consistency in metal 3D printing

In order to do this, a broad range of sub-surface and bulk microstructural features should be evaluated in real-time, at the speed of fabrication

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The University of Houston (UH) is collaborating with Texas A&M University to develop real-time monitoring and analysis to ensure consistent quality and reproducibility throughout the metal AM production process – supported by a $957,849 grant from NIST The National Institute of Standards and Technology.

According to UH, at present, quality control and qualification of metal AM parts is mostly carried out through offline inspection and characterization. However, ideally, a broad range of sub-surface and bulk microstructural features should be evaluated in real-time, at the speed of fabrication in an AM tool.

UH and Texas A&M University partner to provide consistency in metal 3D printing by evaluating sub-surface and bulk microstructural features.
Venkat Selvamanickam.

“The objective of our project is to accomplish this goal by the development of real-time, comprehensive, in-situ sub-surface and bulk structural analysis of AM parts during fabrication, and integration with multi-modal data from various in-situ sensors, that can bridge the critical knowledge gap between process conditions and properties,” said Venkat Selvamanickam, M.D., Anderson Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UH, who is leading the project through the UH Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AMI), which he created.

The preliminary study has confirmed that sample-to-sample differences due to varying AM process conditions are identifiable via two-dimensional X-ray diffraction (2D-XRD). “We will design, construct, and install a custom in-line 2D-XRD in the hybrid Directed Energy Deposition tool in AMI facilities at the University of Houston. This tool offers a robust platform that includes features such as multi-material deposition (for spot-alloying and functional grading) and several in-situ sensors for process monitoring,” said Selvamanickam.

Since its formation in 2018, AMI, a UH University-wide center, has served as a pivotal hub for advancing the scale-up and commercialization of technologies developed by UH faculty – facilitating the transition from idea to manufacturing and eventual market deployment. The project follows AMI’s successful track record of scaling up superconductor manufacturing technologies for industrial applications.

Selvamanickam is supported by Ying Lin, associate professor of industrial engineering, and Goran Majkic, research professor of mechanical engineering at UH. At Texas A&M University, Ali Erdemir, professor of mechanical engineering and Halliburton Chair, will coordinate the program. The Texas A&M team also includes Mathew Kuttolamadom, associate professor of engineering technology and industrial distribution.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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