The University of North Texas has been awarded US$800,000 to test laser-based powder bed fusion (LPBF) 3D printing in repairing military vessels.

Herman Shen, chair at the university’s department of mechanical engineering, and assistant professor Hector Siller received the funding from the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory.

Currently, parts made with laser-based powder bed fusion can come with inherit defects, according to Shen. Plans are for the researchers to test end products for defects or deformations and use artificial intelligence (AI) to find where the defect could have formed during manufacturing. Siller will also analyze fabrication plans, microstructure assessments and monitoring processes to gain an overall picture of what happens to the materials during manufacturing and post-production testing, the university said.

“We will have feedback from that performance, reform the methods and then have a closed loop of improvement,” Siller said.

“Aerospace components will most likely be made using this technology in the future,” he added. “It’s able to fabricate complex shapes such as turbine blades or engine parts. The nature of this research is to make sure those parts are reliable.”