By Raleigh Basinger
Youngstown State University received a grant from the Office of Naval Research through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program. With the grant, YSU purchased a HAAS VF-3 machine which is in Moser Hall.
Brett Conner, associate professor and director of industrial and systems engineering, said this is a hybrid manufacturing machine that combines both additive and subtractive manufacturing.
“By additive, we mean layer-by-layer laser fusing of metal or ceramic powder,” Conner said. “By subtractive, we mean removing material through milling operations.”
The specific laser tool is called AMBIT and is made by Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies. The laser fusing system itself is a process called directed energy deposition.
Tim Daugherty, a graduate student, said the AMBIT system combines traditional CNC machining capability with additive manufacturing capability and is able to print functionally graded materials.
The AMBIT system is mounted on a reconditioned HAAS VF-3 4-axis computer numerically controlled machine tool.
“The subtractive machining improves the geometric dimensioning and surface finish over 3D printing alone, allowing for a more precise and durable final part,” Conner said.
Michael Juhasz, a graduate student, said the first thing students and staff are going to try and do is understand the material the machine works with.
“You put these powders in and you fuse them with a laser and we’re not sure what the material properties will be,” Juhasz said.
Once they understand the material, they are going to try and repair parts, especially those from aircraft. If a crucial pin breaks instead of making an all new part, students can just fix the old one, Juhasz said.
YSU’s system has four powder feeders allowing for multiple materials to be deposited.
“Our research team is very interested in using this equipment to produce functionally graded materials,” Conner said. “These are materials where the composition is gradually changed. For example, one could start printing in steel and gradually change to a nickel-based metal like Inconel.”
The reason the machine was purchased was to do research on hybrid manufacturing methods, Daugherty said. It will also be used to investigate properties of functionally graded materials, which are produced by additive manufacturing.
The machine will also be used to maintain and fix military parts so that certain equipment can be used longer, saving money.
As of right now, though, the machine is for strictly research.
“It was funded through the military, but I assume that other projects will make use of it,” Juhasz said. “I think with all the additive technology, it is all sort of new, and they’re finding ways to incorporate them into the learning process for the undergrads. For students in five years, if the industry moves the way they think it will, then students will see this outside of just pure research.”
The equipment the HAAS VF-3 contains will enable research and education in hybrid manufacturing, functional graded materials and part repair. Daugherty and Conner said the machine will allow YSU to conduct and report on a new realm of research.