This project enhanced AM control research efforts by establishing LAYER and SCAN protocols which were both designed to be independent of PBFAM machine type and demonstrating the ability of each by writing software to generate LAYER and SCAN files from STL files along with providing a PBFAM controller for generating actual parts using the SCAN protocol. The project provided software that, through open source developments, can become an effective tool to enable researchers to develop PBFAM processes with controlled experiments and computational models.
In addition to providing a standard seamless interface to PBFAM machines, the protocol can be used to set boundary conditions for Finite Element Analysis (FEA) which involves communicating the beam paths to finite element software through a file format or software automation interface such as Active X/COM. By leveraging these simulations, optimal beam paths may be developed over time.
As a demonstration of the results from the developed LAYER and SCAN protocols, the team developed a LABVIEW-based machine controller to interpret the SCAN file and stream commands over a communication interface to run actual PBFAM machines per the protocol. Using the STL files from the protocols developed during the project and only the software generated during the project, the team successfully printed a bracket geometry and a blade geometry as demonstration parts.
All the protocols and computer code, including the PBFAM Machine Controller, are available to the open source community under the Apache 2.0 License Agreement within the software repository GitHub to encourage wide acceptance and use of the standards. Training materials were generated to support efforts to implement the protocol in other hardware and software instantiation.
The following items are available on the GitHub repository:
- Demonstration software for generating LAYER files
- Training material for implementation of the LAYER protocol
- Demonstration software for generating SCAN files
- Training material for implementation of the SCAN protocol
- Machine controller program written in LABVIEW (supporting multiple open-architecture PBFAM machines)
- Training materials for implementation of the machine controller