Ph.D. Proposal Presentation by Christopher B. Williams
Monday, May 2, 2005

(Dr. David Rosen, Co-Chair, Dr. Farrokh Mistree, Co-Chair)

" Design and Development of a Layer-Based Additive Manufacturing Process for the Realization of Metal Parts of Designed Mesostructure "


Current cellular manufacturing techniques are limited by poor material selection, pre-determined part geometry and mesostructure, and non-repeatable results. The largest weakness of existing cellular-material manufacturing processes is that they don't take advantage of the greatest benefit of cellular materials: the ability to design a part from its microstructure to its macrostructure.


In this research it is proposed to design, develop, and analyze a manufacturing process that is capable of producing metallic cellular materials and providing a designer the ability to specify material type, material composition, void morphology, and mesostructure topology for any conceivable part geometry. This proposal is driven by a primary research question: How to manufacture three-dimensional, low-density cellular metal structures while maintaining designer freedom in the selection of the material and the design of the part mesostructure and macrostructure?


Answering this research question is partitioned into three phases. The first phase consists of a methodical and rigorous design process that involves (1) definition of process requirements, (2) development of working principles, (3) selection, and (4) rough embodiment. The second phase is one of analysis. Analysis involves (1) the identification of relevant literature, (2) identification of relevant issues, (3) formulation of appropriate research questions and hypotheses, (4) development of analytical model, and (5) experimentation to validate and verify research hypotheses. The third phase involves the embodiment and configuration of the process for its application to production-scale manufacturing. The overall research hypothesis is to be verified through the completion of two example parts with different scales of cellular structure. These example geometries are inspired by two potential applications of the developed technology: a trussed robot arm and a turbine blade with microchannels.


The core results of this research are the design and development of a production-scale manufacturing process, the anayltical modeling of a physical component of the process, and the analysis of the production capability of the process through the development of models to estimate the cost and time to produce parts.