Additive Manufacturing

JAN 2018

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING is the magazine devoted to industrial applications of 3D printing and digital layering technology. We cover the promise and the challenges of this technology for making functional tooling and end-use production parts.

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Page 25 of 43

JANUARY 2018 Additive Manufacturing FEATURE / Metal Additive Manufacturing 24 Faustson Tool, a Denver-area machine shop serving the aero- space and defense sectors, asked that question of its customers in 2014. The small shop was accustomed to taking a long view. An investment the 15-employee company made in five-axis machining in preparation to take on some challenging parts from Lockheed Martin led to an ongoing increase in work from that customer, but it culminated in a full-scale production order of five-axis parts fully 15 years after Faustson had made the five-axis commitment. To the question about which capability it should turn its long view toward next, company vice president Heidi Hostet- ter said the answer from practically every customer asked was "additive manufacturing." So the question Faustson asked next explored what was miss- ing from AM. The company asked, essentially: What could make additive a viable production option that would open the way for Faustson to provide production parts using this capability? Hostetter says the seed of the answer came from Lockheed Martin Senior Research Scientist Craig Brice. The piece really no one was figuring out was arguably the most important piece for aerospace. The outer geometry of an additive part can be realized through the 3D printing itself or through postpro- cess machining, but what can be done to reliably control the microscopic geometry of the part's material? He says this is the question that will ultimately shape how far metal additive manufacturing can go in providing critical parts to the aero- space industry and others. And it was a question too big for Faustson alone. Upon recognizing this, another small, independent manufacturer might have turned away, but an important moment for AM in this part of Colorado occurred when Faustson chose a different way. Hostetter and Faustson president Alicia Svaldi began to look for allies. That is, they began to work connections to put togeth- er ADAPT, and then the ADAPT Center. The $6 million for the center was the total of $2 million in grants from the Department of Defense matched two-to-one by industry con- tributions. Faustson also installed its own metal AM machine from Concept Laser, and set about spending its first year with this machine on making test pieces for the center to evaluate. Machine Learning in Action An example test piece—actually hundreds of test pieces— can be seen in the first photo at the start of this article. The build plate shown has Inconel 718 test cylinders that are not only 3D-printed at various orientations, but also made using various orientations and settings of the laser. According to Kappes, Mike Muessel of the Faustson team is "a saint" for the programming work that went into the most elaborate build An optical microscope generates a precise surface map allowing for measurement of surface-level defects in the part, which in this case is one individual cylinder of the test build. plates like this one. Laser settings and other parameters of the build had to change frequently at precise moments of the build to form the different cylinders using different, precise- ly defined parameter sets. By studying measurements of all these cylinders with various sophisticated tools, the center is exploring and documenting the effects of not only individual Heidi Hostetter of Faustson Tool recognized the company could not achieve the knowledge necessary to fulfill its customers' hopes for AM by acting alone. Faustson's leaders helped to form the ADAPT coalition.

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