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Das Team Receives DARPA Funding



A four year, $6.25M effort on “Direct Digital Manufacturing of Airfoils”, proposed by Associate Professor Suman Das ( ) and his team in response to DARPA’s BAA on “Disruptive Manufacturing Technologies,” has been selected for funding.
Das (PI) and Materials Science & Engineering Professor John Halloran ( ) (Co-PI) will lead an interdisciplinary university-industry consortium which includes the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign UIUC), Anvik Corporation, and Honeywell. Suman is co-inventor of two direct SFF methods for high temperature metals; John Halloran is a co-inventor of ceramic stereolithography, and Kanti Jain (Co-PI, UIUC) invented excimer laser lithography which is now used worldwide for semiconductor integrated circuit manufacturing. Along with their industry partners, they will apply their scientific skills to the exploration of Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) of airfoils as a concept that could disrupt the current state-of-the-art investment casting process for manufacturing superalloy airfoils.

HolloranDDM of airfoils will be achieved by the processing of photocurable ceramic resins through a new direct digital manufacturing technology known as Large Area Maskless Photopolymerization (LAMP) being developed by the team. LAMP combines layered manufacturing of complex three-dimensional objects by solid freeform fabrication (SFF) with the fine-feature resolution and high throughput of massively parallel scanning maskless lithography to achieve a disruptive breakthrough in part build speed and feature definition. LAMP promises an unprecedented ability to rapidly manufacture parts that have macroscale exterior dimensions and microscale interior features.

While the DDM effort can make a large impact on the manufacturing methods for new turbine blades, Das has also been investigating approaches that are suitable for the repair of existing blades. Recently he has been awarded in partnership with Rolls-Royce an ONR grant ($592,000 3-year program) to study “Direct Digital Laser Manufacturing of Nickel Superalloy Single Crystal Components. The overall goal this research project is to create the scientific basis and engineering techniques for controlling solidification during laser-based solid freeform fabrication of nickel-base superalloys with the ultimate goal of achieving single crystal epitaxial growth.

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