America Makes funding will improve additively manufactured lattice structures

Posted: April 3, 2021

Incorporating lattice structures into product design allows engineers to challenge traditional manufacturing practices and develop higher-performing products.

America Makes, the national accelerator for additive manufacturing and 3D printing, announced that researchers at The Ohio State University were awarded $120,000 in funding to develop new ways of testing lattice structures to understand their properties.

The project was developed in response to a Government Driven Rapid Innovation Call (RIC) to address immediate needs identified by government stakeholders. In their winning proposal, Ohio State researchers answered a directive from the U.S. Army and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to quantify the intrinsic mechanical behavior of additively manufactured lattice structures.

Researcher using Concept Laser 3D printer
Co-investigator Ben DiMarco leverages CDME's Concept Laser M2 system, which was recently donated by GE Additive, to print samples for the project

Lattices are interwoven materials assembled to form an interconnected network of nodes and beams, or struts. These intricate webs can provide sufficient strength at a lighter weight while leveraging the benefits of 3D printing, including increased design flexibility, reduced costs, faster product development, and greater precision than traditional milling or mold methods.

Although the development and research of lattice structures have progressed, engineers and materials scientists continue tapping into the undefined potential for a wide range of possible applications.

“Our objective is to understand the mechanics of how metal printed lattices perform in tensile testing and then draft a standard for how to test them in such a way that you get the true measure of their strength,” said Edward Herderick, the director of additive manufacturing at The Ohio State University’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME).

CDME manages one of the most extensive manufacturing user facilities in the United States. The facility is ITAR and EAR compliant while remaining open for use and collaboration.

Led by Herderick, Ohio State has assembled a collaborative team from CDME and the Dynamic Mechanics of Materials Laboratory (DMML) to tackle those objectives. The team will leverage CDME’s extensive 3D printing capabilities, specifically its Concept Laser M2 system, while DMML will house advanced mechanical testing, including tensile testing and digital image correlation (DIC).

“Bringing together the equipment and technical expertise of CDME and DMML, we can demonstrate how the entire additive manufacturing process impacts the outcome – from lattice design to 3D printing to mechanical testing,” said Ben DiMarco, an additive manufacturing technologist at CDME.

DiMarco will serve as co-investigator and technical point of contact. Representing DMML, Research Associate Professor Jeremy Seidt will also serve as co-investigator and act as the technical expert for dynamic testing. CDME Senior Researcher Michael Gentil will be the Ohio State team’s general project manager.

CDME facilitates innovation for a wide breadth of advanced manufacturing practices. The center’s novel approach to applied engineering, technology translation, and workforce development is executed in its 32,000 square-foot advanced manufacturing facility on Ohio State’s West Campus.

The center houses more than $5 million worth of additive manufacturing equipment including industrial 3D printers capable of processing metals, polymers, composites, biomaterials, and ceramics.  The Ohio State team will use its Concept Laser M2 system, which was recently donated by GE Additive, to print samples for the project.

“Ohio State is well-positioned to be a leader in additive manufacturing while addressing the U.S. Department of Defense’s supply chain and modernization goals,” Herderick said.

Funding contributors for the project include the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering OUSD(R&E).

by Ashley Albertson

Category: Research