Jan 8, 2018 | By Tess

A dedicated research team has been working closely with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to advance quality control testing for parts using the large-scale BAAM 3D printing process developed by Cincinnati Incorporated.

The BAAM 3D printing process, also known as Big Area Additive Manufacturing, is one of the largest-scale 3D printing systems for producing polymer-based parts. The machine is so big, in fact, that Amy Peterson, a Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) professor of chemical engineering who is working on BAAM quality control research, was pictured standing inside the 3D printer.

Professor Amy Peterson

Supported by funding from the Office of Naval Research, Peterson and her team have been analyzing the BAAM 3D printing system in terms of temperature and printing time with the goal of producing high quality parts with optimal performances.

“We are interested in tailoring properties and in understanding the relationships between interlayer polymer diffusion, interlayer adhesion, and residual thermal stress,” Peterson commented.

“In the area of additive manufacturing, my group has been studying the effect of assembly conditions on resulting physical and mechanical properties using both experimental and computational techniques,” she added.

So far, ORNL’s BAAM 3D printer has produced such large-scale parts as a shell of a sports car and a 30-foot-long hull for a submersible vehicle. Through continued research, Peterson’s team is aiming to improve how these large-scale parts can handle residual stress (which can cause warping and delamination) by finding the optimal temperature gradients for layer adhesion.

“What we hope to do with the thermal information is to improve the reliability of the process to ensure that if you’re going to be printing a 100-pound structure, that there will not be warping or delamination between the layers,” the researcher explained.

“The welds between layers are the weakest part of a print. If you apply a load you thought was appropriate and you don’t have a good weld between the layers, your part will fail,” she added. “To be able to manufacture a single, large, complex piece is really exciting. Significant material, energy, and time savings can be achieved.”

In manufacturing the 3D printed submersible hull for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Navy’s Disruptive Technology Lab, ORNL was reportedly able to cut back production time and costs for the part significantly.

“The cost of a traditional hull ranges from $600,000 to $800,000 and typically takes 3-5 months to manufacture,” reads a report by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Using BAAM reduced hull production costs by 90 percent and shortened production time to a matter of days—giving the Navy the opportunity to create ‘on demand’ vehicles while also saving time, money, and energy.”

As higher performance parts are produced on the BAAM 3D printing system as quality control techniques improve, Peterson believes that the BAAM process will become increasingly viable for large-scale, small batch production, especially for complex structures.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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