Additive manufacturing (AM) is a key future disruptive technology for manufacturing 3D objects. AM is already being used to fabricate a range of products in the, biomedical, automotive and aerospace sectors in which the proposing supervisors have specific expertise.
Additive manufacturing is also called 3D printing technology where powders (ranging from titanium to polymers) are deposited in thin layers, and fused together using lasers. A component is built-up layer by layer and the details of the deposition of a thin layer of powder (having a thickness of tens to hundred microns) influences directly the product quality, including density, strength and surface finish. All stages of the process from layer deposition to selective melting present challenges, however, the limiting factor for increasing manufacturing rates is represented by powder deposition.
The physical phenomena, including flow, handling and dosing of particulate materials is subject to continued research due to widespread industrial importance. Leicester’s unique contribution to the field is the consideration of air pressure effects that influences powder flow and segregation as described in a recent PhD work by Reza Baserinia.
A major barrier to the widespread adoption of AM, however, is to minimise material segregation during deposition. Our hypothesis is to minimize segregation through an optimized powder flow by controlling air pressure, particularly for formulations that include fine particulates prone to air-induced segregation. Fundamental understanding of packing mechanisms, including air pressure effect will then be used for powder design and process optimisation.