Laser post-processing of metal additively manufactured (3D printed) parts
Additively manufactured (‘3D printed’) metal parts can require significant post-build finishing effort to remove the necessary supports and clean up any remaining marks. This craft based process requires a fair degree of skill and is a source of manufacturing variation, which is incompatible with medical and aerospace applications, for example.
This project will investigate post-build finishing of Additively Manufactured (AM) parts using laser ablation and laser polishing processes. Research will include the development of (i) approaches to remove the support structures required for the AM process, together with support surface clean up; (ii) identification of the best laser(s) for the work; (iii) laser beam delivery and positioning machine configuration; and (iv) generation of design rules for supports to facilitate automated clean up.
This project will serve to enable the application of AM in mass-production and highly regulated environments where the craft element of post-build finishing is currently untenable. In short, the work will allow AM to produce significantly better parts more repeatably, quickly and economically.
The project is supported by a major UK engineering company, Renishaw plc, who will have a close involvement in the project. They will will provide access to their AM build machines, example parts and build design software as well as assistance with project supervision and direction. The project will be based with the High Power Laser Group at Heriot-Watt University, but it is expected that the student will also spend short periods working at the Renishaw sites in Staffordshire, Gloucestershire as well as their site on the Heriot-Watt campus.
The project will provide an enhanced stipend of circa £17,000 per annum for a student who meets the EPSRC UK residency requirements.
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