Government researchers believe that an improved understanding of the science behind 3D printed metals could enable faster adoption of the technology by manufacturers.
Although 3D printing dramatically overhauled the prototyping process across a wide range of industries in recent years, scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California suggested that metal-intensive industries — including aerospace and health care — lack confidence in printed metals.
Wayne King, who leads the laboratory's Accelerated Certification of Additively Manufactured Metals Project, said that skepticism could be overcome through advanced modeling.
King's team, writing in the journal Applied Physics Reviews, combined physics models with advanced computing techniques such as data mining and uncertainty analyses.
The models helped determine the optimal parameters for 3D printed metals. They also saved the time and resources needed for multiple tests, identified possible improvements and detected potential weaknesses.
King said that establishing manufacturers' trust in printed metals could enable them to take advantage of the addition flexibility it allows.
"We’re talking about getting to the place of saying, 'Just press print' for metal," King said. "It could broadly impact the way people apply metal additive manufacturing."