Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a fast-growing sector with the ability to evoke a revolution in manufacturing due to its almost unlimited design freedom and its capability to produce personalised parts locally and with efficient material use. AM companies however still face technological challenges such as limited precision due to shrinkage and build-in stresses and limited process stability and robustness. Moreover often post-processing is needed due to the high roughness and remaining porosity. Within the European PAM² project, a consortium of leading universities and industrial companies will be collaborating to push forward AM development while training the next generation of AM experts. The AM group of the Mechanical Engineering Department of KU Leuven (http://set.kuleuven.be/am/) is looking for motivated and creative candidates to pursue a PhD on “Improved control of the AM process by in-process monitoring and feedback” within this dynamic network. For more information on the PAM² project see:
Many laser-based additive manufacturing processes are not yet robust enough for applications in high-end markets such as aerospace, automotive or medical and to prevent defective components to be produced. Process consistency is lacking. Effective in-line process control and monitoring methods are needed to increase the robustness of the AM technology. In-process monitoring and quality control have been, for several years already, important research topics for the AM group of KU Leuven. Interesting patents were filed and unique hardware has already been developed. The story however is not yet finished. To go to a truly robust process, we need to know how to interpret the monitoring signals and images and to implement this knowledge in a feedback loop. This means (1) linking real-time monitoring data with defects (pores, cracks,..) seen afterwards by X-ray CT and/or TEM/SEM on the finished part; (2) investigating methods to avoid the formation of in-process pores or cracks; and (3) developing algorithms to use the monitoring information for real-time control of the AM process based on the best method found in (2), thus ensuring the structural integrity (no pores, cracks) of the fabricated part. So, clearly many challenges are remaining for a doctoral researcher that is interested in both the laser-based melting process and the monitoring and control soft- and hardware.