US Army Partners with Academia for LPBF Research

The University of North Texas (UNT) has announced that it is collaborating with the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Army Research Laboratory (ARL) to enhance the efficiency and reliability of Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) AM.

The partnership is aiming to research the production of replaceable parts for military vessels, ensuring self-sufficiency during extended deployments.

US Army Partners with Academia for LPBF Research
Herman Shen (left) and Hector Siller. (Image Credit: UNT)

Herman Shen, the Chair of UNT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Associate Professor Hector Siller have secured an $800,000 grant from DEVCOM ARL. Their mission is to develop sturdier and more dependable replaceable components that can be manufactured onboard military vessels. Traditional supply chain challenges during deployments prompted this research, as repairs often require self-sufficiency.

The research involves a meticulous analysis of the PBF-LB AM process. Shen’s team focuses on defect detection by reverse-engineering the manufacturing process. By scrutinizing the final product and leveraging artificial intelligence, they plan to be able to trace back defects to their origins, ensuring quality control.

Siller’s team contributes to the project by comprehensively examining the entire manufacturing process. From scrutinizing fabrication plans and assessing microstructures to monitoring processes, their goal is to gain a holistic understanding of material behavior throughout manufacturing and post-production testing.

“Aerospace components will most likely be made using this technology in the future,” said Siller.

“It’s able to fabricate complex shapes such as turbine blades or engine parts. The nature of this research is to make sure those parts are reliable.”

The project will span four years, during which time progress reports will be submitted annually. UNT’s Discovery Park serves as the hub for manufacturing and testing, while evaluation support is provided by a researcher from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

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