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Research


METAL ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING

AMPrint Center faculty have a combined 25 years of experience involving metal additive manufacturing with a primary focus on aerospace applications and materials. Faculty researchers have worked with titanium alloys (Ti-6Al-4V, TiAl3), aluminum alloys (6061 Al, 7075 Al), copper alloys (CP copper, GR-Cop84), Inconel, and other alloys. Current research involves hybrid manufacturing in which a 5-axis CNC milling machine is fitted with a Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies AMBit laser cladding head and dual powder feeders.


ENGINEERED LATTICE STRUCTURES

Nature is full of cellular materials that are highly "tuned" to perform a given function as efficiently as possible. Examples include human bone, insect wings, balsa wood, corral reefs, etc. Although the engineering advantages of light weight cellular materials have always been obvious, limitations of conventional manufacturing processes have made it difficult or impossible to fabricate many types of cellular materials. The advent of additive manufacturing has changed that. In 2002, Professor Cormier designed and fabricated his first engineered lattice structure (a connecting rod) using a 3D Systems SLA-190 stereolithography machine. In the nearly 15 years since he fabricated his first lattice structure, the design, analysis, fabrication, and characterization of lattice structures with "engineered" geometries has been a major focus of Dr. Cormier's research group.


PRINTED ELECTRONICS

Most inks used to print documents consist of nano-scale color pigments suspended in a liquid vehicle. If the colored pigments are replaced by electrically conductive nanoparticles (e.g. silver, copper, carbon nanotubes, graphene), then the exact same printing processes used to produce documents can be adapted for the production of printed electronic devices. The Rochester area has among the largest concentrations of print expertise in the world due to the presence of companies such as Eastman Kodak, Xerox, and others. While the traditional document printing industry has been hit hard by the emergence of digital devices such as cell phones, and tablets, the Rochester region has done a remarkable job of redirecting its resources towards the very rapidly growing printed electronics industry. Much of the AMPrint Center's focus is dedicated to printed electronics. This research has involved the synthesis of printable nanoinks, development or enhancement of printing processes, and the design of novel printed electronic devices.


MULTIFUNCTIONAL PRINTING

Additive manufacturing and 3D printing have historically been used to produce components that serve a mechanical function. When one synthesizes inks from the appropriate nanoparticles, however, it is possible to selectively print materials that serve mechanical, electrical, chemical, thermal, and/or optical functions. We call this "Multifunctional Printing". Just as a color inkjet printer can precisely deposit any desired color of ink at any desired location in an image, it is possible to print multiple functional inks within a single component. For instance, one might embed optically clear light pipes that transmit light signals through a flexible hinge. Or one might print oriented carbon fibers in a component that serve as highly directional heat sinks for efficient cooling. Multifunctional Printing represents the intersection of traditional additive manufacturing and printed electronics. Combining multiple materials within a component or device is not a trivial task. Factors such as adhesion, surface tension, delamination due to mismatches in coefficient of thermal expansion, galvanic corrosion, and differences in processing temperatures must be taken into consideration. One of the MPRINT Center's core focus areas is to develop a better scientific understanding of how materials in a multifunctional device interact with one another and affect the overall composite material's performance.


MEDICAL APPLICATIONS OF ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING

Additive manufacturing is very well suited for a variety of medical applications such as custom bone implants, prototyping for new medical devices, or presurgical planning models. AMPrint Center researchers have worked on a variety of medical projects such as an NIH funded project that led to the design, prototyping, and testing of several surgical instruments intended for use in minimally invasive robotic surgery. The automated suturing mechanism shown to the left is one such device.