FRANK LIOU'S RESEARCH
LAMP: METAL ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING
The Laser Aided Manufacturing Processes (LAMP) lab at Missouri S&T focuses on metal additive manufacturing processes. We have the capability to research, develop, and integrate custom-designed metal additive processes and hybrid (additive + subtractive) manufacturing processes. Our expertise includes multi-scale process modeling, design, prototyping, software development, system integration, and AM testing. In addition to the commonly processed materials, such as steels, titanium alloys, nickel-based alloys, we researched and developed advanced material, including Functionally Graded Materials (FGMs), High Entropy Alloys (HEAs), Structurally Amorphous Metals (SAMs), etc.
Modeling the cooling rate and melt pool dynamics, such as particle velocity, pressure, and phase status, in the material-energy beam interaction.
Hybrid Manufacturing System
-Blown powder metal deposition for 100% dense metal parts
-5X CNC machining center
-Process planning for hybrid manufacturing
-Making fully dense, high precision metal parts right from a CAD model.
Powder Bed Research
-200 W fiber laser
-250 mm × 250 mm build area, up to 365 mm deep
Making the world better by re-manufacturing a part much better than it was.
1. What is the Laser Aided Manufacturing Process Laboratory?
LAMP system uses blown powder process with multi-axis table to deposit fully dense metals, and use CNC machining process to produce precision parts. We called this a “hybrid manufacturing system”. Our initial LAMP prototype is to integrate a metal deposition process within a CNC machining center. We have a new LAMP system that also integrate the two processes with a robot in between, thus can potential make or repair larger parts. We are also investigating to use a 7-axis robot to accomplish the similar job but with work envelop of 16’ by 20’.
2. How does LAMP inspire new ways of thinking about laser-aided manufacturing?
LAMP research has shown that we can make CNC grade precision metal parts directly from a CAD model, thus rapid manufacturing or repair is feasible. The LAMP manufactured parts can be stronger and better than the parts produced by traditional manufacturing processes. Also LAMP can make parts with new materials that are not currently available.
3. How many people (faculty and students) are currently part of LAMP?
There are 3 faculty members and 25 students directly involved in LAMP research and development activities. They are from various disciplines, including mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, material science and engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering, etc.
4. Does Missouri S&T currently offer any curriculum related to laser-aided manufacturing or additive manufacturing?
Missouri S&T’s Manufacturing Engineering program offers a graduate certificate program in “CAD/CAM and Rapid Product Realization” with 4 graduate courses related to CAD/CAM and additive manufacturing research. This graduate certificate program can directly lead to a master’s degree program in manufacturing engineering. Many students take the graduate certificate online. In year 2014, Missouri S&T’s online graduate engineering programs were tied for 17th place overall and ranked 13th among public universities in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report.
5. When was LAMP established? Why was LAMP established?
LAMP lab is a research and development lab initially funded by National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant (NSF Grant DDM 9871185) in 1998. The project objective was to test how a blown-powder metal deposition process can be used for rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing. We design and developed the LAMP system from scratch, including process modeling, system component design and development, system integration, sensor and control, processing, and material characterization. Therefore it is an excellent R&D facility since we fully understand the entire system.
6 Is this the only facility of its type in North America?
Yes. This is a unique hybrid manufacturing system with the necessary planning software for processing. The system has been extensively tested by several companies on the parts it has produced, including tensile testing and fatigue testing.
7. What types of production issues does LAMP tackle (e.g., joining/welding; cutting; marking; etc.)?
Currently the major focus of LAMP process is for additive manufacturing and repair of precision metal parts. However, we have also shown its capability for joining/welding; cutting; marking, friction welding processes, and the integration of any of the above.
8. How is LAMP tackling the evolving field of additive manufacturing?
Additive manufacturing is our major focus. We can make metal parts that are stronger and better than those produced by conventional manufacturing processes. We can also repair a part with the same or better life span than its original part. Recently we are investigating the functionally gradient materials (FGMs) that have variation in composition and structure gradually over volume, resulting in corresponding changes in the properties of the material. In other words, we can use this process to make a part with material properties that are not available in nature.
9. How does LAMP interact with manufacturers?
LAMP interacts with manufacturers through several channels. Some companies contacted LAMP lab directly, some through Missouri S&T’s Center for Aerospace Manufacturing Technologies (CAMT), and some through the spin-off company, Product Innovation and Engineering, LLC.
10. Does LAMP sponsor any workshops or conferences?
No. But LAMP faculty and students frequently present their results in some major workshops and conferences.