Faculty Receive NSF Award Supporting Advanced Materials Additive Manufacturing Research

Dr. Frank Liou, Michael and Joyce Bytnar Professor of mechanical engineering at Missouri S&T, was awarded a research grant through the National Science Foundation along with Joseph Newkirk, professor of metallurgical engineering, and Jagannathan Sarangapani, Rutledge-Emerson Professor of electrical engineering. 

The award, $881,018, is to be used on their research titled, “MRI: Development of an Advanced Materials Additive Manufacturing (AM2) System for Research and Education.”

Here is a short description of the research that will be performed:

“Additive manufacturing (AM) is often called 3D printing. Although AM technologies have been developed since early 1980s, the exciting applications have just begun. The point-by-point material placement operation offers a lot of opportunities for material innovation, such as digital materials, in which a structure can be designed and specific materials can be digitally placed in the desirable locations.    

This major research instrumentation development project, sponsored by National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program is to build a unique AM system to fabricate freeform parts with advanced materials. AM, the process of directly depositing a 3D solid object from a digital model, makes it possible to produce virtually any geometric complexity with very little impact on cost. However, most of the current AM technologies have not yet begun to achieve their tremendous potential. The objective of this project will develop the research infrastructure to advance AM technologies, with the focus on capacities that differ from conventional manufacturing processes, such as the ability to create materials with properties not generally observed in nature and structures with multiple materials. These capabilities will lead to breakthrough manufacturing technologies, such as producing much stronger and lighter products that cannot be currently made, and repairing parts stronger than their original condition.

 This project will establish the critical research infrastructure to effectively fabricate novel materials through a high performance deposition system, real-time monitoring and control, and the knowledge required to control the process. The developed system will enable us to 1) investigate freeform fabrication of materials that are several times harder and stronger than stainless steels; 2) investigate freeform fabrication of materials that can potentially integrate multiple materials with traditionally incompatible properties into one unified part; and to repair structures to be stronger than their original condition which will revolutionize remanufacturing products; 3) fabricate parts using elemental powders so that real-time material customizability can be achieved; 4) enhance and validate critical multi-scale and multi-physics modeling and analysis for AM processes; 5) develop novel advanced manufacturing applications; and 6) greatly enhance several existing research and education AM projects.”