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Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering

Front Mech Eng    2013, Vol. 8 Issue (3) : 215-243
Additive manufacturing: technology, applications and research needs
Nannan GUO, Ming C. LEU()
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO 65409, USA
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Additive manufacturing (AM) technology has been researched and developed for more than 20 years. Rather than removing materials, AM processes make three-dimensional parts directly from CAD models by adding materials layer by layer, offering the beneficial ability to build parts with geometric and material complexities that could not be produced by subtractive manufacturing processes. Through intensive research over the past two decades, significant progress has been made in the development and commercialization of new and innovative AM processes, as well as numerous practical applications in aerospace, automotive, biomedical, energy and other fields. This paper reviews the main processes, materials and applications of the current AM technology and presents future research needs for this technology.

Keywords additive manufacturing (AM)      AM processes      AM materials      AM applications     
Corresponding Author(s): LEU Ming C.,   
Issue Date: 05 September 2013
 Cite this article:   
Ming C. LEU,Nannan GUO. Additive manufacturing: technology, applications and research needs[J]. Front Mech Eng, 2013, 8(3): 215-243.
State of starting materialProcessMaterial preparationLayer creation techniquePhase changeTypical materialsApplications
LiquidSLALiquid resin in a vatLaser scanning/light projectionPhotopoly-merizationUV curable resin, ceramic suspensionPrototypes, casting patterns, soft tooling
MJMLiquid polymer in jetInk-jet printingCooling & photopoly-merizationUV curable acrylic plastic, waxPrototypes, casting patterns
RFPLiquid droplet in nozzleOn-demand droplet depositionSolidification by freezingWaterPrototypes, casting patterns
Filament/PasteFDMFilament melted in nozzleContinuous extrusion and depositionSolidification by coolingThermoplastics, waxesPrototypes, casting patterns
RobocastingPaste in nozzleContinuous extrusion-Ceramic pasteFunctional parts
FEFPaste in nozzleContinuous extrusionSolidification by freezingCeramic pasteFunctional parts
PowderSLSPowder in bedLaser scanningPartial meltingThermoplastics, waxes, metal powder, ceramic powderPrototypes, casting patterns, metal and ceramic preforms (to be sintered and infiltrated)
SLMPowder in bedLaser scanningFull meltingMetalTooling, functional parts
EBMPowder in bedElectron beam scanningFull meltingMetalTooling, functional parts
LMDPowder injection through nozzleOn-demand powder injection and melted by laserFull meltingMetalTooling, metal part repair, functional parts
3DPPowder in bedDrop-on-demand binder printing-Polymer, Metal, ceramic, other powdersPrototypes, casting shells, tooling
Solid sheetLOMLaser cuttingFeeding and binding of sheets with adhesives-Paper, plastic, metalPrototypes, casting models
Tab.1  Working principles of AM processes
Fig.1  Example ice parts built by the RFP process
Material typeAM process(es)Manufacturer/research institute(s)Material(s)
Polymersa)Thermo-settingSLA, MJM3D SystemsPhoto-curable polymers
Thermo-plasticMJM3D SystemsWax
SLSEOSPolyamide 12, GF polyamide, polystyrene
3DP3D SystemsAcrylic plastics, wax
Metalsa)SLMEOSStainless steel GP1, PH1 and 17-4, cobalt chrome MP1, titanium Ti6Al4V, Ti6Al4V ELI and TiCP, IN718, maraging steel MS1, AlSi20Mg
LDM/LENSOptomecSteel H13, 17-4 PH, PH 13-8 Mo, 304, 316 and 420, aluminum 4047, titanium TiCP, Ti-6-4, Ti-6-2-4-2 and Ti6-2-4-6, IN625, IN617, Cu-Ni alloy, Cobalt satellite 21
EBMArcamTi6Al4V, Ti6Al4V ELI, cobalt chrome
Ceramicsb)SLA[107-109]Suspension of Zirconia, silica, alumina, or other ceramic particles in liquid resin
FDM[99-101]Alumina, PZT, Si3N4, zirconia, Silica, bioceramic
SLS[103-106]Alumina, silica, zirconia, ZrB2, bioceramic, graphite, bioglass, and various sands
3DP[64,102]Zirconia, silica, alumina, Ti3SiC2, bioceramic, and various sands
Compositesb)Uniform compositesFDM[121-123]Polymer-metal, polymer-ceramic, short fiber-reinforced composites
3DP[119,120]Polymer-matrix, metal-ceramic, ceramic-ceramic short fiber-reinforced composites
LOM[113,124,125]Polymer-matrix, ceramic-matrix, fiber and particulate-reinforced composites
SLS, SLM[112,114-118]Metal-metal, metal-ceramic, ceramic-ceramic, polymer-matrix, short fiber-reinforced composites
FGMLMD/LENS[57,127-131]CoCrMo/Ti6Al4V, TiC/Ti, Ti/TiO2, Ti6Al4V/IN718
Tab.2  Materials and corresponding AM processes
Fig.2  Classification of metal AM processes
MaterialProcessUltimate tensile strength/MPaYield tensile strength/MPaElongation/%Elastic modulus/GPaSource
Ti6Al4VReference (wrought)95188314110-
316SSReference (wrought)57929050--
IN718Reference (rolled sheet)1407117221--
Co-Cr alloyEBM96056020-Arcam
Co-Cr-Mo alloySLM1400±50960±509-13210±10EOS
Tab.3  Mechanical properties of materials processed by laser or electron beam based full-melting processes
Fig.3  (a) Example metal parts fabricated using LENS (Source: Optomec []); (b) fine grid structure for use in the medical field (material: Cobalt chrome alloy) fabricated using SLM (Source: Concept Laser [])
Fig.4  Titanium 3D-micro-framework-structure based on a diamond lattice fabricated using EBM (Source: [])
Fig.5  A cast metal part and the corresponding shells and core made by Z Corporation using 3DP (Source: [])
Fig.6  Alumina and silica ceramic cores produced using SLS for investment casting of turbine blades and other ceramic parts (Source: Phenix Systems [])
Fig.7  Typical microstructure and Co distribution of LENS processed Co-Cr-Mo graded coating on porous Ti6Al4V alloy (Source: [])
Fig.8  (a) Triple-extruder FEF system; (b) FGM part with a gradient from 100% AlO to 50% AlO and 50% ZrO fabricated using the triple-extruder FEF process (Source: [])
Fig.9  (a) Mixing nozzle for gas turbine exhaust produced by LENS (Source: Optomec []); (b) compressor support case for gas turbine engine produced by EBM (Source: Arcam []); (c) turbine blade with internal cooling channels produced by SLM (Source: Concept Laser []); (d) turbine blades fabricated by SLM (Source: Morris Technologies []); (e) hollow static turbine blade cast using the mold and cores fabricated by 3DP (Source: Prometal []); (f) engine housing produced by SLM (Source: Concept Laser [])
Fig.10  Damaged blisk repaired using LENS (Source: Optomec [])
Fig.11  (a) Airfoil (material: IN 738) produced by LMD on cast IN 738 substrate; (b) airfoil with embedded cooling channels (material: Ti6Al4V) produced by LMD (Source: [])
Fig.12  A die core repaired using an LDM based hybrid rapid manufacturing system: (a) before the repair, showing the top of the core damaged and the surrounding surface worn; (b) after deposition, showing the portion requiring repair covered with new material; (c) after surfacing machining, showing the repaired core. (Source: [])
Fig.13  Example of an enlarged Ti6Al4V open cellular foam prototype fabricated using EBM (Source: [])
Fig.14  Wing-body-tail launch vehicle configuration model for wind tunnel testing produced by SLS using glass-reinforced Nylon (Source: [])
Fig.15  (a) FEF system developed at Missouri S&T. Sintered ceramic parts fabricated using the FEF process: (b) AlO nose cones; (c) ZrB nose cones (Source: [,])
Fig.16  (a) F1 upright (right) cast via rapid casting process using polystyrene patterns produced by SLS (left) (Source: CRP Technology []); (b) suspension mounting bracket for Red Bull Racing produced by LENS (Source: Optomec []); (c) race car gear box produced by EBM (Source: Arcam []); (d) exhaust manifold produced by SLM (Source: Concept Laser []); (e) oil pump housing produced by SLM (Source: Concept Laser []); (f) engine block cast using the mold and cores fabricated by 3DP (Source: Prometal [])
Fig.17  (a) Water pump for a motorsports car produced by SLM (Source: []); (b) automotive part produced by investment casting with 3D-printed starch patterns and molds (Source: [])
Fig.18  Engine part with lattice structure fabricated by EBM using Ti6A14V to reduce engine weight while enhance stiffness (Source: Arcam [])
Fig.19  (a) Final assembly of an intake manifold fabricated by FDM; (b) completed intake system after a composite layup process and final assembly of sensors and mounts (Source: [])
Fig.20  (a) Acetabular cups with designed porosity (material: Ti6Al4V) produced using EBM (Source: Arcam []); (b) dental prosthesis (material: Ti6Al4V) produced using SLM (Source: Concept Laser []); (c) 3-unit dental bridge (material: CL111 CoCr) produced using SLM (Source: Concept Laser [])
Fig.21  (a) Hip stems with mesh, hole and solid configurations fabricated using EBM (Source: []); (b) functional hip stems with designed porosity (no porosity,<2 vol% porosity, and 20 vol% porosity) fabricated using LENS (Source: [])
Fig.22  (a) Bone scaffolds fabricated using SLS; (b) bone scaffolds with 600 μm pores fabricated using FEF (Source: [])
Fig.23  SEM images of MLO-A5 cells on control BD CaP (a, c) and SLS-1 scaffolds (b, d) after 2 days of incubation (Source: [])
Fig.24  MTT labeling of MLO-A5 cells on porous 13-93 SLS scaffolds after culture intervals of 2, 4, and 6 days (Source: [])
Fig.25  A bioprinter and images of printed cells and tissue constructs. (a) Schematic representation of the bioprinter model; (b) bovine aortic endothelial cells printed in 50 μm drops in a line; (c) cross-section of the p(NIPA-co-DMAEA) gel showing the thickness of each sequentially placed layer; (d) actual bioprinter; (e) print head with nine nozzles; Endothelial cell aggregates ‘printed’ on collagen (f) before and (g) after their fusion (Source: [-])
Fig.26  Graphite composite bipolar plates for PEM fuel cell fabricated by SLS process. Active area is 50 mm × 50, channel width is 1.5 mm and depth is 1.5 mm. (a) Serpentine design; (b) parallel in series design; (b) serpentine in series design; and (b) bio-inspired “leaf” design (Source: [])
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