CAMX Award | AMCM: Integrated Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing and Compression Molding Process

Event Time

Originally Aired - Tuesday, October 18 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

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Event Location

Location: CAMX Awards Pavilion

Event Information

Title: CAMX Award | AMCM: Integrated Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing and Compression Molding Process


Unsurpassed Innovation Award 

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory/ Manufacturing Science Division

Description: The CAMX Award winners will be announced during Tuesday's General Session and will present in the theater at 12 pm. All entries will be on display throughout the week in the CAMX Awards Pavilion in the exhibit hall.

Additive Manufacturing-Compression Molding, AM-CM, a new large-scale manufacturing process developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), brings the best of these two worlds. It combines the advantage of high fiber alignment possible in AM-printed parts with traditional CM, improving bead-to-bead interfaces and removing porosity. High fiber alignment, low porosity, and selective bead placement can provide exceptional mechanical properties with precise control. In addition, an AM-produced preform can incorporate multiple materials for structural functionality, such as over-molding, selective reinforcement, and embedding electrically conductive pathways. All these benefits come along with a very fast part production cycle time, i.e., 2-minutes/part (1ftx1ft part).  

Collaboration and Partnerships: The system is custom built with off-the-shelf equipment and is highly modular. In general, the system as a whole is a result of collaborative ideation and research between ORNL and industry partners on their individual equipment units. Various companies donated parts and functionalities of this system at no material cost to the lab, based on Collaborative Research And Development Agreements (CRADA Activity) or other communication efforts. For example, the 150 lb./hr. extruder was historically donated by the Strangpresse company and repurposed for the AMCM application. Strangpresse also provided the extruder software integration consultation for ORNL engineering adjustment. The TRINKS 500-ton press installed on the MDF floor is a result of collaboration with IACMI and UT Knoxville. Orbital Composites completed the hardware and software integration for the Kuka Robot and pedestal, which contributed to the project's final success. Future efforts have DowAksha showing interest in providing various carbon fiber intermediates to learn more about the benefits of the AMCM process. Finally, Eaton is in communication with our Principal Investigators, and are keen to leverage the AMCM process to make battery enclosures for electric vehicles.  It is noted that at present, there are companies working on combining AM with a Molding process, but the size and scale of ORNL's AMCM is unmatched in the market.        

Concept and Design: The AM-CM system includes a fast-acting 500-ton press with an integrated/automatic shuttle system (Trinks, Inc.) that allows transfer of the mold to and from the press; a six-axis, 300 kg payload robot (Kuka Robotics); a material feeding system (Dri-Air Industries, Inc.); and a variety of end-effector options. The initial end-effector is a 150 lb./hr. extruder (Strangpresse Model 30) with an automated material-feeding system mounted to the robot. Material feed line connections and power cables are suspended overhead to prevent the cables from tangling. To achieve the goal of the fastest cycle time from pellets to the final component, the AM robot is installed on a pedestal, ideally positioned near the shuttle system for maximum reach to the corners of the shuttle table.  When the system is in operation, a 3D preform (semi-consolidated part) is printed on top of a mold located on the shuttle table. The robot arm exits the print zone and moves to a parked position on the side of the shuttle after the part is printed. Simultaneously, the mold is shuttled into the press, and the press compression cycle is initiated. Following compression, the shuttle returns to the outermost position on the shuttle table, and the consolidated part is removed from the mold.  As a bonus: The system is well suited for using recycled materials in the form of granulates to create second-life products. It is anticipated that with highly controlled manufacturing, the recycled part performance would be on-par with the original parts from other manufacturing processes.

Additional Information: United States Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm witnessed the working AMCM process and appreciated the progress. In addition, composite World Magazine published an article dedicated to the AMCM process in July, titled - Low-void, large-scale, high-volume 3D printed composites (published July 29, 2022).

Type: CAMX Awards


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