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Materials & Manufacturing (MM) | center for innovative metal processing through direct digital deposition (CIMP-3D)

CIMP3D CoverThe Center for Innovative Metal Processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D) - A DARPA Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in Open Manufacturing

The Applied Research Laboratory of the Pennsylvania State University (ARL Penn State), along with its partners Battelle and Sciaky Corporation, operate the Center for Innovative Metal Processing by Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D), a Manufacturing Demonstration Facility under the DARPA Open Manufacturing Program.  The CIMP-3D provides advanced demonstration capabilities in direct digital manufacturing (DDM) technology that may include all aspects of analysis, design, materials, processing, inspection, characterization, and qualification to participants of the Open Manufacturing Program.

With a mission to advance and deploy DDM technology of metallic systems to industry, the Center for Innovative Metal Processing through Direct Digital Deposition seeks to:

  • advance enabling technologies required to successfully implement DDM technology for critical metallic components and structures,
  • provide technical assistance to industry through selection, demonstration, and  validation of DDM technology as an "honest broker", and
  • promote the potential of DDM technology through training, education and dissemination of information.

The Center enables prospective participant to access information and data through a broad, virtual network of Center members involved in all facets of the development and implementation of direct digital manufacturing (DDM) technology for metallic systems.  The Center also cultivates partners that include developers of DDM systems, institutions engaged in various aspects of innovative product design and process simulation techniques, materials suppliers and developers that realize the potential of DDM, corporations that plan to strategically exploit the technology, and government organizations that stand to benefit from the massive insertion of this disruptive technology to the U.S. industrial base.  Appropriate to DDM technology, the Center functions through a cyber-enabled environment drawing upon the collective capabilities of the members, while also supporting a central facility for the advancement and demonstration of various DDM technologies for innovative design and manufacturing of metallic components and structures.  The Center also serve as a virtual resource encompassing all aspects of the technology, as well providing an extensive, functional network of materials, process, and analysis capabilities available to industry, as well as training and education of technologist, engineers, and management.

A cornerstone of the Center is the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility.  The Facility serves as a training, development, and demonstration facility for DDM technology, and contains a select assortment of systems capable of producing high quality metallic components designed for critical applications.  The Center also encompasses engineering resources, hardware, and software for component design, material selection, analysis, advanced sensing, and process simulation and validation.

The demonstration facility encompasses a wide range of direct digital manufacturing systems capable of full consolidation of metallic systems for critical applications that initially will include:  

  • Optomec LENS MR-7 laser-based DDM system (shown below) having multiple powder-feed capability for deposition and full consolidation of complex components within a controlled inert gas environment.  This system in currently installed and provides a working envelope of 30 cm length by 30 cm width by 15 cm height.  The Optomec system is capable of near-net fabrication of components and requires final machining.  Although the system is capable of producing parts having complex geometries, it cannot produce geometries having significant projection or overhang without support.
  • EOS Corporation Model EOSINT M 280, high definition, DDM system based on a scanning laser with powder bed technology that is capable of full consolidation of metallic powder and high feature quality.  The work envelope is 25 cm in length, 25 cm in width, and 32 cm in height.  This system will be installed in August, 2012.  The advantages of the powder bed system is the ability to achieve very near-net shape surface quality, and since the powder bed may provide support of projections, this system is capable of complex geometries having full three dimensionality.
  • Sciaky electron beam-based DM system (shown below) having wire and powder-feed capability for high deposition rates and full consolidation of complex components within a vacuum environment.  This system is scheduled for installation in September, 2012 and provides a working envelope of 127 cm length, 76 cm width, and 127 cm height.  This system is ideally suited for high deposition of reactive materials, such as titanium.  The build geometries applicable for this system are similar to those of the Optomec system, but larger.
  • Specialized laser-based DM system with advanced powder delivery and optical system for high deposition rates (up to 10 kg/hr) of non-reactive metallic materials to produce large structures.  This system is currently installed and provides a working envelope of 244 cm length by 183 cm width by 30 cm height.  This system is suited for high deposition of non-reactive materials, such as nickel-bases and ferrous-based alloys.  The geometries for this system are similar to those of the Optomec system, but larger.

LENS MR 7 Sciaky eBeam
Optomec LENS MR-7 laser-based DDM system            Sciaky electron beam-based DDM system

All of the processing systems described above form a digital manufacturing cluster accepting standard STL files for processing and linked to advanced analysis, design, and simulation systems.  The Center also operates the CIMP digital network, capable of data and file transfer and accessible through HTTP Secure formats.  As part of the Applied Research Laboratory capabilities, sensitive and classified data exchange may occur within a secure environment using the laboratory's connection to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET).

In addition to the advanced direct digital manufacturing technology that is available within the Center and its members, a vast array of material analysis capabilities, characterization tools, and inspection techniques are available within the Pennsylvania State University.  The Center also directly leverages the capabilities within the Laser Processing Division at ARL Penn State, which has been actively involved in the implementation of laser-based deposition technology for over 25-years.  The Division has driven the advancement and implementation of deposition technology throughout the U.S. industrial base, and has included successful applications for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (in the development of Aeromet technology), Caterpillar Corporation, Naval Undersea Warfare Center-Keyport, Alvord Polk Corporation, Bonney Forge Corporation, Triton Corporation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.  The success of the Division as the world-wide leader in laser-based deposition technology that may be traced to its combined expertise in materials and process technology.  Shown below is a timeline indicating contributions of the Laser Processing Division at ARL Penn State to deposition technology.

Timeline Photos
 Timeline indicating major contributions in laser deposition technology by the Laser Processing Division of the Applied Research Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University.