News

Feb
01
2023
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MOST-AM Consortium Spring Meeting set for April 13!

UPCAM, MOST-AM, Spotlight

Save the Date! The MOST-AM Consortium has scheduled our next, in-person meeting at the University of Pittsburgh for April 13, 2023.Formal registration and tentative agenda will follow in the coming months. We look forward to seeing you all soon!https://www.engineering.pitt.edu/mostam/
Aug
29
2022
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Strong Finish for MEMS at Additive Manufacturing Benchmarks 2022

Honors & Awards, MEMS, MOST-AM

Alaa Olleak,  a postdoctoral associate of MEMS Professor Albert To, took home three first-place finishes at the recent National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Additive Manufacturing Benchmarks 2022.  The awards were recently announced at the AM-Bench conference held in Bethesda, MD hosted by The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS).  Participants were asked to blindly submit simulation results, which were compared against experimental measurements. Olleak's first-place awards were on the topics of time above melting temperature and solid cooling rates in different additive manufacturing builds. According to NIST.gov,  “AM-Bench provides a continuing series of controlled benchmark measurements, in conjunction with a conference series, with the primary goal of enabling modelers to test their simulations against rigorous, highly controlled additive manufacturing benchmark test data.  All AM-Bench data are permanently archived for public use. ”
Aug
09
2022
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Going Heavy Metal

Research, MOST-AM, MEMS, Banner

Tucked away in the sub-basement of Pitt’s Benedum Hall, past the racecar parts spilling into hallways, you’ll find a giant machine that looks like a cross between a car garage and the entry port of a sci-fi spaceship. It’s a state-of-the-art 3D printer for metal — the first Gefertec arc605 at any university in the U.S.For producing big, specialized metal parts, the machine is unbeatable, said Albert To, William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Swanson School of Engineering and an expert on 3D printing.“Even on the order of tens of parts, this is very advantageous,” he said. “And if you want to include some complexity, then you can’t do it any other way than 3D printing.”The printer makes use of welding, melting wire made from metals like stainless steel, titanium and aluminum alloys and depositing it layer by layer. Previous metal 3D printers in the lab using lasers and metal powder could lay down a few hundred grams an hour; this one is an order of magnitude faster.That makes the Gefertec printer ideal for producing larger parts that would normally have to be casted and tooled, an expensive approach that’s often not practical for manufacturing small-batch, specialty pieces. One of To’s first projects, for instance, is to make a three-foot-long bridge joint for the U.S. Army that’s no longer manufactured.Jiminez and his advisor Albert To, William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Swanson School of Engineering, pose in front of the Gefertec printer. Jiminez is holding a test part made using the machine to ensure it’s working properly.  While the technology has been around for decades, only in the past several years has it become reliable enough to gain widespread notice. “All of a sudden, there’s a very high interest in industry,” including in aerospace, nuclear power and oil and gas, To said.The machine’s advanced software and “five-axis” capabilities where pieces can be rotated and tilted during printing means it can be used to create complex metal parts. But there are still plenty of kinks to work out. For instance, metals warp as they heat and cool, a process that To is using the new printer to study with funding from the U.S. Army and the Department of Energy.Xavier Jimenez, a third-year PhD student in To’s lab, is developing a process to 3D print using a new type of high-strength aluminum that has potential applications in aerospace but tends to crack when welded.“You have to tune all these different parameters to figure out what will produce the best-quality weld,” Jimenez said. “Every material behaves a little differently.”Jimenez came to Pitt in part because he wanted to work with the Gefertec arc605, but COVID-19 threw a wrench in the gears, and the printer took three years to make its way to Pitt. The machine is larger than some studio apartments, and when it did arrive it had to be dropped into the lab piece-by-piece via crane and then assembled.Having made it through the installation, the team is now in the process of testing parameters for the 3D printing of different metals. By testing the approach for different metals, then using X-rays and testing material properties, they can start to model how the process affects a part — from visible warping to changes to the microscopic structure of the material.Further out, To is collaborating with colleagues to create smart components where fiber-optic cables are embedded in 3D-printed metal parts to sense the temperature and deformation of the part.“It was a lot of work to get all the pieces together to get the machine working,” Jimenez said. “We’re very happy that it’s here.”
Feb
18
2022
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Upcoming MOST-AM Meeting - May 5, 2022

UPCAM, MOST-AM

Save the Date! The MOST-AM Consortium has scheduled our next, in-person meeting at the University of Pittsburgh for May 5, 2022.MOST-AM Consortium MeetingPre-Meeting DinnerLocation: TBD Wednesday, May 4, 2022 (6-9pm)(For Members and Presenters Only - limited seating available)Full Day EventUniversity of Pittsburgh - University Club Thursday, May 5, 2022 8:00am - 5:00pm 123 University Pl., Pittsburgh, PA 15213 Light breakfast and full lunch will be providedWe are looking forward to showing off some of our new capabilities at this spring meeting, including a Gefertec arc605 5 axis, wire arc printer!We are now soliciting speakers for this event. Presentations should discuss AM modeling and simulation tools as well as the practical applications of AM technologies in diverse industries. If you are interested in a 30 min slot, please reach out to liza.allison@pitt.edu with a topic.Formal registration and tentative agenda will follow in the coming months. We look forward to seeing you all soon!https://www.engineering.pitt.edu/mostam/
Nov
16
2021
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Three Swanson School faculty earn 2021 NSF CAREER Awards

Research, MEMS, Electrical & Computer, Civil & Environmental, Sustainability, UPCAM, MOST-AM, SPOTLIGHT

Marking another successful year of grant support, three rising stars among the faculty in the Swanson School of Engineering have received CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation. Leanne Gilbertson, Wei Xiong, and Liang Zhan were notified of their successful applications during the most recent NSF funding cycle.The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a foundation-wide activity that offers the NSF's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization."For the past five years my office, along with SSOE Associate Dean for Faculty Development Anne Robertson, have put a special focus on not only encouraging but assisting new faculty on a path toward winning a CAREER award as an early goal. Because of this group effort, 18 young professors have received CAREER awards since 2016," noted David Vorp, Swanson School Associate Dean for Research. "I am very proud of this funding cycle cohort and I look forward to the results of their impactful research." Lead is not the only danger when it comes to drinking water – harmful bacteria can also find their way into the water we consume despite treatment prior to distribution. In the face of water scarcity and aging infrastructure, there is a need for innovative, affordable, and portable solutions to sustainably provide safe drinking water across the globe.Leanne Gilbertson, who this year was promoted to associate professor of civil and environmental engineering,will use her CAREER award to create a sustainable material design framework to mitigate pathogen exposure in this invaluable resource. Read more.Additive manufacturing (AM) allows engineers to specifically manufacture a complex component in any shape. However, due to the unique processing involved, the alloy behaves differently during fabrication using AM when compared with other traditional manufacturing techniques.The alloy components produced by AM can easily develop a texture that makes them behave like wood in some ways—stronger along the grain than against it—and thus limits the strength and ductility. There is a well-known trade-off between strength and ductility, which cannot be fully solved using current AM techniques, like reducing the grain size through externally applied deformation. Wei Xiong, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, will study the fundamental mechanisms behind this trade-off. Read more.Alzheimer’s disease currently affects 5.8 million Americans and is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060. Researchers are developing a variety of methods to uncover the mechanisms behind Alzheimer’s onset and progression, but there is a lack of effective computational tools to study this disease.Liang Zhan, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, will leverage his CAREER award to develop computational tools that illuminate how genetic factors impact brain structure and function. In collaboration with the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), he will couple this CAREER award with two R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health to further investigate brain function in neurological disorders. Read more.
Sep
21
2021
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Lightening the Load of Multi-Material Manufacturing with 3D Printing

Grants, MEMS, Chemical & Petroleum, Banner, UPCAM, Spotlight, MOST-AM

The rise of 3D printing has transformed the manufacturing industry, enabling manufacturers to quickly and precisely create specialized parts for any application. Soft robotics, flow actuators, electrical circuits and sensors all make use of these customizable 3D-printed parts, and the list of applications continues to grow.3D printing has enabled the production of components made of multiple materials, each with their own unique properties. However, the process—which typically includes changing out vats of liquid and cleaning the lines in the middle of production—causes slow-downs and increases costs. Research led by University of Pittsburgh engineers promises to streamline this process by using different wavelengths of light to create reactions that imbue one specialized material system with different properties, rather than changing out the material itself to achieve the same goal. The research recently received $500,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Future Manufacturing Seed Grant. “Existing multi-material manufacturing methods have to switch over the material in the middle of production, rotating between materials like resins and waxes to create a single component,” explained Xiayun Zhao, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, who is leading the project. “Instead, we’re advancing the use of a single resin vat that can replace that process by exhibiting different characteristics when cured with different wavelengths of light.”Unlike the popular, consumer 3D printers that melt a filament of solid material to print layers, the 3D printing that is used for manufacturing is more complex, using a liquid that is cured by light exposure using a laser as the layers are printed into place. Prior research has explored the use of wavelength selectivity to create distinct reactions that cure material for 3D printing in different ways. This project is the first systematic and comprehensive study to establish the chemistry theory in the practice of multi-material photopolymer 3D printing. “It’s traditionally very hard, but very useful, to use multiple materials within a single, complex, 3D shape,” said Sachin Velankar, professor of chemical engineering and co-principal investigator. “3D printing has made it more attainable, but it’s still difficult. By using two lasers of different wavelengths, we can bypass the slowest part of the process.” Joining Zhao and Velankar is Sarah Bergbreiter, professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Bergbreiter will apply the technology in her soft robotics and sensors work to test its capabilities."I'm particularly excited to explore the possibility of printing conductive materials and structural materials simultaneously for robotics applications,” said Bergbreiter.The project, “Establishing a Cyber-Physical Framework and Pilot System of Wavelength Selective Photopolymerization based Rapid Continuous Multi-Material Manufacturing,” begins Jan. 15, 2022, and will extend through 2023. 
Apr
28
2021
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Designing New Alloys for Additive Manufacturing

MEMS, Banner, Research, UPCAM, Spotlight, MOST-AM

Additive manufacturing (AM), a burgeoning technology for alloy fabrication, allows engineers to specifically manufacture a complex component in any shape. However, due to the unique processing involved, the alloy behaves differently during fabrication using AM when compared with other traditional manufacturing techniques.The alloy components produced by AM can easily develop a texture that makes them behave like wood in some ways—stronger along the grain than against it—and thus limits the strength (its resistance to distortion and fracture) and ductility (how much it can elongate before it breaks). There is a well-known trade-off between strength and ductility, which cannot be fully solved using current AM techniques, like reducing the grain size through externally applied deformation.Wei Xiong, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, will study the fundamental mechanisms behind this trade-off in a new project that received a $526,334 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The five-year project, titled “Unraveling Fundamental Mechanisms Governing Grain Refinement in Complex Concentrated Alloys Made by Additive Manufacturing Towards Strong and Ductile Structures,” began on April 15, 2021.“The ability to produce strong yet tough structural alloys is a necessary step toward getting the most out of new, innovative materials and manufacturing,” said Xiong, who last year also received the Early Career Faculty Fellow Award from the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (known as TMS). “This project will provide a fundamental understanding that can overcome the well-known problem that, in general, the stronger a material is, the less ductile it becomes. Moreover, we will also design new alloys that can be additively manufactured”.Grain refinement is a method used to augment a material by changing the size of its grain structure, improving both its strength and ductility. Xiong’s project aims to understand the underlying mechanism of grain refinements in complex concentrated alloys made by additive manufacturing of combinations of multiple chemical element additions.Xiong’s Physical Metallurgy and Materials Design Lab will investigate whether increasing entropy, or disorder, in an alloy system will slow grain coarsening and stabilize microstructures, making the material both strong and ductile. Particularly, they will focus on mixing alloy powders to print complex concentrated alloys, which is a new type of material that usually stabilizes the microstructure due to its resulting high entropy.There are plenty of earthly reasons that AM has exploded as a way to fabricate alloy parts. There are some good interplanetary reasons, too.“Think about, in the future, if we colonize Mars and want to build stations using 3D printing. No one wants to bring hundreds of different alloy powders to travel with the rocket,” said Xiong. “We want to bring maybe only three or four different types of powders to serve the needs of building an entire station on Mars, so we can mix them with different ratios to fabricate different parts by additive manufacturing.”“The developed technique can also help to save the cost of alloy powder production for various engineering purposes and enhance the sustainability of 3D printing by providing recipes to recycle and reuse existing metal powders," he continued. “Therefore, it is important to explore the effective pathways of microstructure engineering of these alloys by additive manufacturing, and that is why I proposed such a topic.”According to the NSF, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is its most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. This award marks the fourth consecutive year that a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science has received a CAREER Award.Maggie Pavlick, 4/28/2021Contact: Maggie Pavlick
Jul
11
2019
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Pitt Engineers Receive $1 Million to Develop Better Quality Control for 3D Printing Turbine Components

MEMS, MOST-AM

PITTSBURGH (July 11, 2019) — The U.S. Department of Energy, through its University Turbine Systems Research program, has awarded researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering $802,400 to find an effective quality assurance method for additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, of new-generation gas turbine components. The three-year project has received additional support from the University of Pittsburgh ($200,600), resulting in a total grant of $1,003,000.Xiayun (Sharon) Zhao, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt, will lead the research, working with Albert To, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt, and Richard W. Neu, professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Mechanical Engineering. The team will use machine learning to develop a cost-effective method for rapidly evaluating, either in-process or offline, the hot gas path turbine components (HGPTCs) that are created with laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) additive manufacturing (AM) technology. “LPBF AM is capable of making complex metal components with reduced cost of material and time. There is a desire to employ the appealing AM technology to fabricate sophisticated HGPTCs that can withstand higher working temperature for next-generation turbines. However, because there’s a possibility that the components will have porous defects and be prone to detrimental thermomechanical fatigue, it’s critical to have a good quality assurance method before putting them to use,” explains Dr. Zhao. “The quality assurance framework we are developing will immensely reduce the cost of testing and quality control and enhance confidence in adopting the LPBF process to fabricate demanding HGPTCs.”ANSYS will serve as an industrial partner in this project.Author: Maggie PavlickContact: Maggie Pavlick