Almost exactly a year ago, Arizona State University (ASU) officially launched it’s Manufacturing Research and Innovation Hub in the Technology Center at the Polytechnic School in Mesa, AZ.

The centerpiece of this Hub is a $2M investment in Additive Manufacturing (AM) equipment, including post-processing machines. Over the past year since the launch, ASU has hired 4 new faculty (including me) that have a keen interest in AM research, education and outreach. For my own part, I have formed a research group focusing on important questions in AM (3DX Research), and am actively working on developing and teaching courses in AM. This blog post is the first of many to come that will delve into work we are doing at ASU as well as topics and ideas in AM that I am passionate about. The purpose of this first post is to properly introduce our equipment capabilities at ASU to those that may not be familiar with our Hub.

While the Hub has other capabilities such as laser cutting and a paint booth, our primary focus for this post is AM. With regard to AM, we have a total of 5 different technologies represented, covering three different material groups – polymers (FDM, SLS, PolyJet), composite (MarkForged, Stratasys) and metal (Laser Powder Bed Fusion: L-PBF). In addition to all the usual OEM-provided software specific to each machine, we also use Materialise Magics for build preparation for SLS and L-PBF and FEA tools for analysis.

1. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM): The largest FDM printer we have is the Stratasys Fortus 450mc, which is a production grade equipment used by several companies for prototyping, tooling and even functional part production. Over the winter break we installed an upgrade that allows us to now extrude carbon filled nylon filament, to go along with thermoplastics like ULTEM 9085, Polycarbonate and ABS. In addition to the Fortus 450mc, we have several smaller machines including the Fortus 250mc, a couple of uPrints and 10 desktop 3D printers including a recently acquired dual extrusion Ultimaker 3D printer. These printers are our workhorses for student projects and also used in our Additive Manufacturing courses – with the Fortus 450mc being reserved for research and critical projects where the required material or build size cannot be delivered by the smaller machines.FDM

2. Polyjet (Material Jetting): A Connex 350 and an Objet 30 make up our Polyjet equipment set. These machines are used in our AM coursework, for student projects and for research into studying how allocation of multiple materials in a structure can influence its behavior.


3. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): 2017 saw the addition of an EOS Formiga P110 SLS 3D printer. We currently only run Nylon 12 but can do other materials as well. The machine is primarily focused on supporting student projects – this Fall we will start using it in our AM curriculum to demonstrate the advantages of support-free construction and importance of powder handling.


4. MarkForged Composite 3D Printer: In addition to the Stratasys Fortus 450mc that can print Carbon fiber filled Nylon, we recently purchased a MarkForged Mark Two 3D printer that combines a similar carbon fiber filled nylon material on one extruder head with fibers such as continuous carbon fiber, kevlar and fiberglass. This machine is currently being used for research purposes only.


5. Concept Laser Powder Bed Fusion (Metal): Finally, we have two metal 3D printers based on the Laser Powder Bed Fusion process. These are the Concept Laser M2 and its smaller cousin, the MLab. Our facility is currently limited to only running non-reactive alloys for safety reasons – these include a range of steels, Inconel 625 and 718, and Cobalt-Chrome. The MLab is used in our AM courses to give students hands-on experience – the M2 is reserved for research work and special student projects that need a larger build envelope.


We do have post-processing equipment and a range of characterization facilities on campus as well as on our sister-campus in Tempe that are complementary to these AM facilities – but more on that in a future post!

If you want to reach out to see how you can partner with ASU on Additive Manufacturing, please contact me.

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