Nov.24, 2014

A startup based on a Purdue University innovation could produce stronger, lighter metal parts that work for the automotive and aerospace industries through a new, 3D printing technology.

The Crawfordsville, Indiana-based company Frontier Additive Manufacturing LLC uses multiple technologies to create a next generation additive manufacturing process.

Building on existing direct laser deposition technology, Frontier uses metal powders and a unique multiple-laser method to deposit fused metal onto a substrate material layer by layer. Frontier has the capability to align metal grain structures at will, which has been known to correspond to a 20% increase in strength compared to a traditionally manufactured part of the same dimensions. The flexibility exists to specify multiple alignments within the same part. Compared to forging, which can only produce one orientation, this gives designers more choices for their parts.

"We are commercializing a multiple-laser method to create products at the micro-structural level that exceeds current 3D printing capabilities' structural integrity with the ability to adjust material properties in the original location of the part," said Eric Lynch, president and co-founder of Frontier Additive Manufacturing.

The patented technology was developed in the laboratories of Gary Cheng, a Purdue University associate professor of industrial engineering and Yung Shim, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering.

"The conventional 3-D methods of creating metal parts for any type of machinery only have about 60 to 70 percent of the current strength of an original part," said Cheng, who also is the director of the Scalable Micro Nano Manufacturing Center at Purdue. "We are finding solutions to this problem through the use of novel 3D printers that reconstruct the parts at the smallest micro-structure level currently available."

Frontier's method allows them to control the mechanical properties and microstructure on each layer. Mechanical properties can be tailored as needed using varying metals or ceramics. This also lends itself to alloying for wear resistance, weight saving, heat resistance, etc. Frontier's engineers have developed the know-how to join these materials layer by layer. Their process also allows for the transition between or the mixing of multiple materials within the same part.

The result is a new manufacturing method that can produce parts that are impossible to make using traditional manufacturing methods or other established additive manufacturing technologies.

Frontier Additive Manufacturing's technology will be able to create a finished product in one setup from a CAD design that can be used to replace worn parts in manufacturing with drop-in capabilities where no other modifications are needed for the replacement part to function as an original.

"In addition to producing stronger, lighter parts, with our technology, we will be able to make these parts in a much shorter amount of time," Lynch said. "For example, we will be able to manufacture the part all in one work center, performing both additive and subtractive operations as well as material adjusting processes, without stopping the manufacturing process to go to another work center. This could save many days on just on one part."


Posted in 3D Printing Technology


Maybe you also like:


Bob a' Jet wrote at 11/24/2014 7:03:02 PM:

But are these parts really stronger than a forged component, or for that matter a single crystal turbine blade as these articles seem to imply turbine blades rather than stator blades.

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive