Metals-based additive manufacturing (AM) processes, or metals 3D printing, such as laser powder bed fusion and directed energy deposition, are promising emerging manufacturing technologies for producing complex and highly-customized parts. These processes have been in development over the past 15+ years and their capabilities have grown significantly. However, several barriers have prevented metals-based AM from reaching its full potential. These barriers include limitations in uncertainties about the material properties of the feedstock metal powders and the final parts, a lack of understanding of the process physics and methods to control them, poor surface quality and part accuracy, and limitations in fabrication speed or throughput.
We are interested in project ideas that focus on the development and application of measurement techniques, physics-based or data-driven models, and standards to better understand and improve metals-based AM. Our AM facilities include a commercial laser powder bed fusion machine, a commercial laser directed energy deposition machine, and several unique open-architecture laser powder bed fusion metrology testbeds with world-class, unique controls and measurement capabilities, and flexibility to incorporate new research instrumentation and ideas. Further, our measurement facilities include X-ray computed tomography, powder characterization techniques such as dynamic image analysis, high-speed micro-videography in both infrared and visible spectra, and in-situ synchrotron X-ray imaging and diffraction. We have ongoing research projects in real-time monitoring of AM processes and AM process control, qualification of AM feedstocks, machines, and parts, and AM data management, integration and analytics for decision making. AM research is inherently multi-disciplinary, and our team collaborates with leading researchers and technical experts throughout NIST and beyond to realize the full spectrum of techniques for AM and material and geometry characterization at the micro, meso, and macro scales.
additive manufacturing; laser powder bed fusion; directed energy deposition; materials characterization; metal powder; powder bed fusion; process metrology;