AddUp and ORNL Announce $2.7 Million Collaboration to Advance Metal Additive Manufacturing for Tooling Applications

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Above: Main campus of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)/Image Credit: ORNL

AddUp Group, a global machine and solutions provider for metal additive manufacturing, announced a $2.7 million cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the largest U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) open science laboratory.

The collaboration is targeted towards advance laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) technology for the metal additive manufacturing (AM) of moulds with complex geometries for the tooling industry.

AddUp provides an industrial approach to metal additive manufacturing that is fortified by the inherited expertise of its two founders, Fives and Michelin. The AddUp Group, with health, safety, and the environment at the core of its concerns, offers multiple integrated technologies, capabilities, and solutions including: machines and systems, training and consulting, design for AM, and proof of concept. These precision systems are capable of fine-resolution printing, and are paired with the flexibility of an open architecture framework for materials and parameters.

AddUp’s involvement at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at ORNL centres on the development of industrial LPBF technology, with a specific focus on the advancement of metal additive manufacturing applications for tooling. Through improving the deposition rate within powder bed technologies, controlling the metallurgical processes, and managing the qualification of steel tooling components, this project is expected to advance metal additive manufacturing overall.  

ORNL contributes an understanding of material properties and process parameters that leverages in-situ data analytics and advanced machine learning tools. Using the cutting-edge methods of characterization present at the MDF, the CRADA will also expedite the delivery of validated AM process recipes and a deepened comprehension of the microstructural properties of AM tool steels. The pooled expertise from both AddUp and ORNL enables an approach to fabricate complex mould and die tooling that will lead to reduced cycle time and optimized, repeatable performances.

The CRADA focuses on the development of breakthrough solutions for the geometric constraints and limitations (i.e. overhang angles, thin walls, process repeatability) that impede metal additive manufacturing from becoming an adopted method of manufacturing for tooling and mass production environments. For example, many challenges are present in the plastic injection moulding industry which can be overcome by using complex cooling channels.

AddUp and ORNL will explore the impact of these complex channels to advance applications. This collaborative effort aims to deliver a technology capable of improving pre-existing processes of manufacturing conformally cooled moulds with optimized mechanical properties, productivity, and quality for performance in-high volume production environments.

Earlier, ORNL also signed a five-year cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with GE Additive to focus on processes, materials and software to drive industrialization and encourage the broader adoption of additive manufacturing technology.

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