Multi-axis additive manufacturing (AM) robots.
This project aims to develop technology (hardware and software) that will position and allow the additive manufacturing (AM) industrial user base to take full advantage of the lower cost and increased flexibility associated with scalable multi-axis robot systems using directed energy deposition (DED) methods.
There is no commercially available multi-planar CAD to path software tool to enable the manufacturing of Medium Area AM (MAAM) and Big Area AM (BAAM) parts through a single robot, cluster, or system of coordinated multi-axis robots using directed energy deposition (DED) methods with multi-meter, multi-process, multi-material capabilities.
Printing large complex parts with multi-meter build areas typically requires large, inflexible, expensive 3-axis gantry based systems. These systems usually incorporate only one deposition modality through a single deposition head resulting in increased processing time as the part size increases. The high costs associated with such large, single head AM equipment drastically shrink the applicability of this technology on a wide array of industry applications.
The objective of this project is to develop technology (hardware and software) enabling the commercialization of a next generation DED metal AM machine. This technology promises to position the AM industrial user base to take advantage of the lower cost and increased flexibility associated with scalable multi-axis (9 and above) robot systems. The project seeks to build on existing alpha generation CAD to path AM robotic software tools by testing and refining the CAD to path tool for a commercial first release. Basic process testing is planned to develop a multi-process, multi-meter, multi-material production ready robot-based 3DP system.
The team plans to construct a demonstration system to test and refine robotic 3DP hardware and software through the printing of team member challenge parts. This effort will leverage existing Wolf Robotics proprietary CAD to Part printing tools to enable multi-axis (9 and above), multi process (laser hot wire and blown powder) printing. Software features developed allow a CAD model to be broken into sections that can be assigned to different processes, materials, and or robots within a robot cluster as part of a “build strategy” defined for a specific part by the software user. One robot is being used for printing on this project; however, the project team will investigate multi-robot coordination strategies to serve as a foundation for potential future projects related to multi-robot printing that addresses robot reach and collision avoidance.
Other Project Participants
- Oak Ridge National Laboratory
- Lincoln Electric
- University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- IPG Photonics
- Case Western Reserve University
- GKN Aerospace
- United Technologies Research Center
- Youngstown Business Incubator
- U.S. Department of Defense
- National Science Foundation
- U.S. Department of Energy
Update: November 7, 2018