nTopology has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to advance the capabilities of additive manufacturing through integrated software toolkits and embed ORNL expertise into nTop software.
The plan is for these capabilities to be made available commercially to the broader advanced-manufacturing market.
The collaboration incorporates foundational nTopology software with ORNL-developed machine control capabilities on large-scale polymer additive manufacturing systems.
This integration will enable the advanced design of part geometries optimized for the manufacturing process.
Potential impacts include improved design and modeling controls as well as the production of reusable, configurable templates for end users of the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL.
Phase one of the CRADA includes the development of a toolkit within nTop Platform to optimize design and print preparation for the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine focusing on large-scale polymer 3D printing.
This will allow for connectivity from nTop Platform directly to the ORNL slicer to successfully fabricate parts on the BAAM systems.
Phase two includes the creation of a toolkit to engineer direct metal grain growth with an Electron Beam Manufacturing (EBM) system, such as an Arcam, and developing an additional toolkit to design honeycomb infill based on circle packing and simulation for fused deposition modeling (FDM).
nTopology will also develop simulation-based optimization of support structures for BAAM, Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and EBM.
Duann Scott, vice president of partnerships and business development at nTopology, says: “The team at ORNL is undertaking some of the most cutting-edge research and development of advanced-manufacturing processes in the world.
“Capturing that expertise and making it available as toolkits within nTop Platform will not only enable ORNL, but all nTop users, to leverage that expertise to design and manufacture the most advanced products in the world, and space.”
Michael Borish, ORNL’s lead researcher on the project, says: “We look forward to collaborating with nTopology to enhance large-scale polymer 3D printing capabilities and anticipate the development of novel software to improve printing processes.
“As a leader in advanced manufacturing, ORNL works with industry to help them bring new technologies, such as the nTopology software toolkit, to the marketplace.”
Ultimately, this project could result in the optimization of build speed and the use of materials for large 3D-printed components and cost savings due to reduced material usage and machine cost amortization.