Additive Manufacturing: Bridging the gap between academia and industry

As Additive Manufacturing technologies are in constant development, knowledge sharing and understanding of this field are truly necessary. AMEXCI’s collaboration with different universities from Sweden contributes to generating new knowledge in AM, while bridging the gap between industries and educational institutions. In this article, we would like to share two ongoing Master Thesis projects conducted at AMEXCI, with the goal to provide new hands-on knowledge to universities and the industry alike. 

Topology Optimization in Additive Manufacturing 

One of the research projects, conducted by two students at Linköping University together with us at AMEXCI, is optimizing an application’s topology both on the aesthetic and the functional aspects, having it redesigned for Additive Manufacturing. In other words, the study will explore if the application, that was provided by an AMEXCI customer, can have its overall weight reduced, while maintaining the same or better functionality. The students will use different software tools to implement and validate Topology Optimization. 

Therese and Malin, who study Master of Science in Design and Product Development at Linköping University, are excited to embark on their new project: “We didn’t hear that much of it (AM) in our education, and we wanted to explore it more in depth. As compared to the other production methods, you get the freedom to create designs which were impossible to do with other production methods. In our education we worked with different CAD designs before for different production methods, but with AM is cool that you get so much design freedom.” 

Through this research, we will not only understand how different software are capable of weight optimization, while designing advanced bionic, cellular, and lattice structures, but also how a part’s performance can be improved without compromising on any other aspects. Therese and Malin’s study will provide a valuable tool for research and industries alike, as new expertise in the field of AM will be made available. 

Increasing Productivity in Additive Manufacturing

The other research project currently on-going at AMEXCI is to explore how productivity can be increased for metal materials by optimizing the process parameters of the manufacturing process. As AM is an expensive manufacturing technique, increasing the productivity of a part will mean lower lead times and costs. For this project, AMEXCI is collaborating with William, who is pursuing a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering and Materials Design at Uppsala University. Linking this research to the industry, it will provide us with an opportunity to tailor the process to each customer’s build job – giving them the best combination of print time, related to reducing costs, and material quality that suits their components the best.  

William sees Additive Manufacturing as a new technique providing endless possibilities. He was exciting to start a research project at AMEXCI, as he was drawn to the concept from the very start. His aim with this study is to offer the industry increased know-how related to how the productivity can be increased: “We want to provide something to the industry, because it is still a new area (AM). By improving productivity, we can make this technique more widespread”. 

Resulting knowledge from a fruitful collaboration

The development of new knowledge resulting from a positive collaboration between AMEXCI and universities, will not only help AM industries with increased expertise, but also contribute to research advancements. At the same time, students are a valuable resource for the evolution of Additive Manufacturing technologies, and by providing them with the means to apply their knowledge in practice, we contribute to closing the gap between industries and academia. On a more specific level, these research projects will provide us with the means to push the limit when it comes to productivity and the capabilities of these materials and machines.  

These projects are some examples of Universities and AMEXCI’s collaboration throughout the years. We are looking forward to more research projects, such as these, in the future, where more universities and students will take part in AM knowledge generation. Lastly, the topology optimization and process parameter development for increased productivity projects will be published on DiVA (Digitala Vetenskapliga Arkivet) for public access.  

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