A computational tool for simulating the sintering behavior in binder jet additive manufacturing

Principal investigator: Albert To

University: University of Pittsburgh

Industry partners: The ExOne Company

The binder jetting process (BJP) has several advantages over other powder bed metal additive manufacturing (AM) techniques of significantly higher material deposition rate, much cheaper feedstock, negligible residual stress, and self-supporting parts. These key advantages make this process highly appealing to the industry, especially when manufacturing large complex parts with high resolution. However, one of the critical issues hindering the adoption of BJP is the heterogeneous deformation from the post-sintering of BJP parts. Due to the lack of numerical models, there are significantly more experimental iterations required to both prove the feasibility of sintering with unique designs and to further achieve satisfactory tolerances after part shrinkage. To address this issue, this project aims to develop a computational tool for simulating the deformation and porosity resulting from the sintering of BJP parts made of 316L stainless steel (SS316L) powders. Near the end of the project, the University of Pittsburgh will share the sintering simulation model with our industrial partners ExOne and ANSYS and train their engineers to use it. The developed sintering simulation model is expected to provide guidance in designing a part for sintering and would significantly reduce upfront costs, waste, and lead-times for BJP parts. The Pitt student fellows supported on this project will work closely with engineers from ExOne and ANSYS through internship and will leverage their expertise in BJP and computer simulation, respectively. The close interaction with the industrial partners is expected to lead to high-paying employment opportunities after the project for the students involved.