ASU project explores 3-D printing frontier

September 16, 2016

In the year of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, the reality of 3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, is advancing closer to the series’ fictional replicator technology — the final frontier of manufacturing.

Researchers from Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and its industry partners are boldly going where no researcher has gone before in the study of lattice structures in additive manufacturing. Lattice structures are a promising area of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Lattice structures are a promising area of additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing. These designs have cost and performance advantages over solid structures, but the ability to control their mechanical, thermal, and acoustical behaviors is only now being explored by an ASU researcher and his industry partners. Photo by: Pete Zrioka/ASU Download Full Image

Lattice structure design and manufacturing is one of the most promising areas of additive manufacturing research today. It capitalizes on the unique advantage of additive manufacturing processes: complexity for free. Though latticed designs are more complex than solid ones, they do not cost more to produce when additive manufacturing processes are used. Systematically and methodically removing material in the design can lower material costs, increase design flexibility and functionality and reduce weight without negatively affecting mechanical performance or production time and cost.

These materials are used in an increasing number of applications, especially in components where strength-to-weight ratio is critical. Beyond mechanical advantages, lattice structures can also be designed and tuned to having engineered thermal properties for conductors or insulators, acoustic properties for sound cloaking, and even optical properties for visual cloaking.

While optimization efforts are ongoing in this area of additive manufacturing, unaddressed is the issue of modeling the behavior of 3-D printed lattice structures.

“By understanding the fundamental physical principles that govern the correlation between the manufacturing processes and the behaviors of lattice structures, we can advance toward better lattices and better processes to build them,” said Keng Hsu, assistant professor of manufacturing engineering.

Hsu creates more, new capable additive manufacturing processes and additively manufactured materials as part of his Advanced Multi-scale Manufacturing Lab. His research is focused on the creation and evolution of manufacturing processes and materials by studying and applying the fundamental principles of material science and material-energy interaction. This has led to breakthroughs such as being able to 3-D print solid metals at room temperature.

Bridging theory and reality is what keeps Hsu interested in the field of advanced manufacturing and materials. In practice, this means creating processes through which theoretical concepts can be produced in real life, specifically new manufacturing processes and materials.

Hsu is working with Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies, Honeywell Aerospace, LAI International and Professor Howard Kuhn of the University of Pittsburgh to develop physics-based, geometry-independent models that describe material behavior and strength of complex lattice structures in order to increase performance and reduce the amount of material needed. They specifically explore three additive manufacturing processes — fused deposition modeling, laser-bed powder bed fusion and electron beam melting — with thermoplastic and metal materials.

The team’s efforts related to their project, “A Non-Empirical Predictive Model for Additively Manufactured Lattice Structures,” earned them a place among seven teams selected to be part of an $11 million grant from the National Additive Manufacturing Group, America Makes. Hsu and the team were awarded $281,000 over a period of 18 months.

The America Makes Distinguished Collaborator Award recognizes individuals or organizations with exceptional commitment and dedication to the innovation of additive manufacturing technology and practices. The award honors these individuals and organizations for cultivating collaborations between academia, government and industry.

“[The award] marks a very important start of a collaboration between PADT and ASU in the additive manufacturing research space,” said Hsu, the co-principal investigator on the project. PADT Senior Technologist Dhruv Bhate is author and principal investigator of the project proposal.

It also puts Arizona on the map for 3-D printing advancements in academia and industry.

ASU’s Polytechnic campus is home to the Additive Manufacturing Center, a 15,000-square-foot additive manufacturing facility with $2 million of state-of-the-art 3-D printing equipment — which uses plastics, polymers, metals and composites in five different additive manufacturing processes — in addition to a range of materials processing and analytical tools.

Another part of the team’s proposal is an online, collaborative additive manufacturing textbook for comprehensive information. It’s designed as a “living” textbook, which is important to keep up-to-date in a field where more than 50 papers are published worldwide every day, according to PADT.

While we’re still far from the replicator’s capabilities of creating complete physical things out of pure energy, Hsu and his Fulton Schools team and industry partners have a strong platform from which they can work together to solve bigger science and engineering problems in additive manufacturing.

“Let the exciting research work begin!” Hsu said.

Monique Clement

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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Chinese coaches arrive to learn Sun Devil way

Dozens of coaches visit ASU to study basketball, swimming, track and field.
September 16, 2016

Pac-12 initiative teaches US system of collegiate sports to strengthen ties

The American system of encouraging students to pursue athletics at an elite level while they earn a degree is unique in the world, and a group of coaches from China is here to see how Arizona State University does it.

The 96 coaches arrived Saturday and will spend three months on the Tempe campus, observing how a Division 1 athletics program works. The visit is jointly coordinated by Sun Devil Athletics and Global Launch, ASU’s English-teaching and cultural program for international students and professionals. The coaches are from Federation University Sport China, the governing body for university athletics in China, which is much less developed there than in the U.S.

The program is part of a global-outreach initiative by the Pac-12 ConferenceThe University of Utah also is hosting 89 Chinese coaches this semester. to strengthen ties with China, according to Jamie Zaninovich, deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the conference. Since 2011, the conference has sent all-star volleyball and basketball teams to play in China and held a regular-season basketball game there, but has never before hosted coaches.

“This program is the first of its kind,” Zaninovich said. “Just as our institutions are focused on research and academic exchanges, we manage the athletic contests and we hope we can also play a role in helping the Chinese develop their coaches.”

The Chinese will learn tactics and strategy while attending practices of the men’s and women’s basketball, swimming and track and field teams, as well learn about sports medicine, nutrition, sports psychology and academic support.

“They’re here to see the American student-athlete experience, from practice to academics and how it culminates in a game-day experience,” said Jean Boyd, senior associate athletic director at ASU.

The collaboration between the nations and among the departments is truly interdisciplinary and an example of ASU's innovation, according to Ray Anderson, vice president for university athletics at ASU.

“Our current Sun Devil coaches and staff will share their experiences and expertise in a classroom setting as well as practice demonstration,” he said.

The coaches' visit will include a trip to the Grand Canyon, meetings with coaches from professional teams in the Valley and cultural activities.

An important component of the Chinese team’s stay will be English lessons, taught by Majenica Rupe, an international educator with Global Launch who developed the entire curriculum for the coaches' visit.

The chance to work with the Chinese is especially meaningful for Rupe, who played professional basketball for several years around the world, including the 2001 season in China.

“I got to see a lot of the world form a sports perspective, which is nice because then you can’t be arrogant and say ‘Our way is the only way to get it done.’" 

In other countries, young people who excel at sports either play at a club or go to special schools devoted to athletics, and most universities don’t have sports teams.

“In China, when you’re a child and they see that you have elite talent they put you on a sports track and you go to a sports school where they do sports all day long, every day.

“The problem with that model is that when they’re done being a professional and an Olympian, they have to go back and get an academic degree if they want to do anything other than coaching.

“So I think they realize they can emulate different models and that there is enough time in the day to be both a student and an athlete.”

Rupe saw firsthand the changes in China when she returned there to teach English in 2011.

“When I played there, we had to do a lot of promotion for basketball because soccer was the national sport. The school that I taught at 10 years later had 23 basketball courts.”

Top photo: A group of 96 coaches from Federation University Sport China arrived at ASU on Saturday to spend the semester learning about the American collegiate athletic experience. Photo by Linda Hill/ASU Global Launch

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now