Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Metal Additive Manufacturing

Today, a metal part can be designed using computer-aided design tools and then uploaded to a machine where the part can be built layer by layer, that is, additively manufactured with quality approaching that of wrought alloys. Within the next decade or two, additive manufacturing (AM) is going to completely change how we view the design and production of metal parts. AM will both replace and complement traditional manufacturing methods and reduce the time, cost, and energy consumption of producing new and existing metal parts. In order to fully implement AM, specific scientific and technical challenges must be addressed.

While AM has begun to make an impact, it is still far short of what can be achieved if we are able to integrate predictive modeling and simulation with in situ characterization (sensors) and feed-forward control of the process. This degree of control will ultimately drive the transition of AM to a disruptive technology and will enable cost-effective adoption of AM.

The true benefits of rapid build time and unique microstructural control cannot be fully realized at the current time due to the long qualification and certification times required. Predictive modeling coupled tightly to process parameters can overcome this barrier and provide a direct path for streamlined part insertion. To that end, the objectives of this project—Accelerated Certification of Additively Manufactured Metals (ACAMM)—are to (1) develop process modeling and process optimization simulation and modeling capabilities, (2) put in place a streamlined materials qualification and certification strategy to provide near-net-shape metal parts certified for use in critical applications at a significantly reduced cost, time, and waste.

Materials are key

"Metal parts from some AM systems are already on par with their cast or wrought counterparts. As organizations qualify and certify these and other materials and processes, the industry will grow very large. In fact, additive manufacturing is poised to become the most important, the most strategic, and the most used manufacturing technology ever."

(Wohlers: 2012)