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New tech means new possibilities in MAE
U.S. Navy photo by Javier Chagoya

New tech means new possibilities in MAE

By MC2 Michael Ehrlich

As additive manufacturing continues to become more accessible, new resources are providing students and faculty with the ability to push their own limits in creativity. The NPS Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering’s new EOS M100 Direct Metal Laser Sintering 3D printer is one such resource, bringing a new capability to the campus.

“The 3D printer is an amazing tiny manufacturing plant where students with this technology can open up new possibilities for design and solutions for manufacturing,” said Supervisory Technician Stefan Kohlgrueber. “The laser-sintering system for metal powders has the capability to print parts with a geometry that could not be machined in one piece.”

Associate Professor Walter Smith says the printer provides NPS with a platform to explore new welding and additive manufacturing processes and designs.

“Additive manufacturing creates opportunities which otherwise would have been too expensive to pursue, both in terms of money and time,” said Smith. “There are many avenues of research that this machine opens up, from building parts en masse with complex geometries for application in other research endeavors, to optimizing the welding process for support structures and build orientations, and finally the post processing of constructed parts to ensure the required end use strength and toughness.”

The printer is already being put to good use, welding and joining metallurgy to produce aerospace components out of titanium alloy powder, but can also produce high detail resolution parts out of aluminum, stainless steel and others.

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