ORNL develops micro-scale 3D metal printing process
EBM system precisely controls structure and properties of 3D metal parts during formation.
Using an ARCAM electron beam melting system (EBM), which fuses layers of metal powder using an electron beam, the technique can control the microstructure, or crystallographic texture, of a nickel-based parts during formation. According to the ORNL researchers, crystallographic texture is key to determining a material’s physical and mechanical properties.
“We’re using well established metallurgical phenomena, but we’ve never been able to control the processes well enough to take advantage of them at this scale and at this level of detail,” said Suresh Babu, the University of Tennessee-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Advanced Manufacturing. “As a result of our work, designers can now specify location-specific crystal structure orientations in a part.”
Other contributors to the research are ORNL’s Mike Kirka and Hassina Bilheux, University of California Berkeley’s Anton Tremsin, and Texas A&M University’s William Sames. The research was supported by the Advanced Manufacturing Office in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.