Additive Manufacturing Laboratory (AML)
The Additive Manufacturing Laboratory (AML) at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology provides material-addition manufacturing research and development in size scales ranging from microns to meters. AML, established in 2004 through a grant from the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), specializes in laser powder deposition (LPD) and direct write (DW) technologies.
LPD, a technology utilizing a focused laser beam to fuse powder metal to a previously existing metal substrate, is useful for building metal prototype parts, modifying existing parts for a longer lifespan, and repairing broken or worn out parts. AML houses a sophisticated LPD system and also contains a micron resolution laser additive manufacturing system to support fabrication of biomedical devices. The LPD system allows for laser cladding, solid free-form fabrication, and graded alloy development of both metallic and non-metallic materials. AML also supports the development of laser ultrasonics for in-situ defect detection during cladding operations.
Projects include component repair, development of laser cladding wear resistance materials, material property response, thermal and stress modeling of laser clad materials, and unique component direct laser fabrication. AML also houses state-of-the-art DW technology, supporting the printing of mesoscale materials, such as metals and ceramics for conductors, dielectrics, ferreolectrics, and ferromagnetics. Equipment in this facility allows for aerosol deposition, slurry/paste syringe deposition, and photonic curing.
With the materials handling capability and precision of this technology, the AML is able to manufacture conformal antennas, integrate circuitry with biomaterials, perform research involving tissue engineering and integrated lightweight electronics, and support the development of difficult and conventionally expensive-to-construct products.
AML works to develop these technologies and to move them from applied research to production. The center is currently collaborating on projects with private industry, such as Black Hills Nanosystems and Lockheed Martin; educational facilities, such as the University of North Dakota; and Department of Defense (DOD) entities, such as the ARL and the Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center.