Penn State researchers have released a roadmap for building the fundamental knowledge necessary to accelerate the design and application of additive manufacturing (AM) materials over the next 10 years.

The popularity of AM processes has soared in recent years with revenues reaching US$4.1 billion in 2014, the researchers say. However, today’s AM community often relies on a limited selection of conventional feedstock material choices for producing parts, functional prototypes, casting patterns and repair solutions. Most of the materials are costly and are not readily available. There is also a limited understating and inadequate compatibility with current AM processing technologies, Penn State says. The Strategic Roadmap for the Next Generation of Additive Manufacturing Materials roadmap could show how introducing new materials to the AM industry will drive rapid innovation and shape the future competitiveness of the United States in advanced manufacturing.

‘We have published this document in order to inform the next generation of makers about the materials and applications that lend themselves well to 3D printing so they can take advantage of the wide range of capabilities that this technology can offer to industry,’ said Tim Simpson, one of the co-principal investigators (PIs) on the roadmapping project and co-director of CIMP-3D and professor of mechanical engineering and industrial engineering.

Penn State researchers have released a roadmap to accelerate the design and application of additive manufacturing (AM) materials.
Penn State researchers have released a roadmap to accelerate the design and application of additive manufacturing (AM) materials.

Next generation

 ‘The AM process currently allows for development of unique microstructures that can lead to improved component performance,’ he added. ‘However, in order to fulfill its promise to ‘revolutionize manufacturing,’ the AM industry must focus on the development of new materials that are created with AM processes in mind. AM allows us to make nearly anything we want, but we must be able to provide advanced material properties that are capable of meeting next-generation design requirements and product applications.’

The roadmapping effort involved more than 120 participants from industry, government and academia. It organizes research and activities into five strategic thrusts: enabling integrated design methodologies for materials, processes and parts, developing AM process-structure-property relationships, establishing part and feedstock testing protocols, building AM process analytics capabilities and exploring next-generation AM materials and processes.

‘New materials will represent one of the next great innovations in this field, and we believe that this roadmap provides researchers a pathway for the next generation of materials and innovations that will drive additive manufacturing for the next decade or two,’ said Todd Palmer, associate professor of materials science and engineering and senior research associate with the ARL, who is the PI on the roadmapping project. ‘Our work on this roadmap is only strengthening Penn State’s leadership position in additive manufacturing.’

Fundamental research

The researchers are hoping that the roadmap generates enough interest from academia, research institutions, government labs and industry partners so that they can launch the Consortium for Additive Manufacturing Materials (CAMM). The goal of CAMM is to enable materials producers, research institutions, AM equipment suppliers, part manufacturers and end users to collectively focus on the fundamental research and development of new AM materials and processes.

This story uses material from Penn State, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.