Motivated by the desire to combine the advantages of two manufacturing concepts, namely Additive Manufacturing and sheet metal forming, the concept of hybrid processes emerged. Laser Beam Melting process with its characteristic layer by layer fabrication methodology has already been proved to be successful in fabricating fully dense 3D structures with micro sized Ti6Al4V powder. The presented research focuses on direct fabrication of Ti6 Al4V Additive Structures on a thin pre-formed Ti6 Al4V sheet metal substrate. In the state of the art Laser Beam Melting process, fabrication of solid structures is done on a support structure attached to a thick conventionally manufactured base plate. The state of the art process also uses a 200°C pre-heating of the fabrication platform in order to reduce the effect of heat induced stresses on the fabricated structures. Within the hybrid fabrication concept, 3D structures are directly fabricated on a thin sheet metal and the thermodynamic conditions are significantly different in comparison to the conventional process. The research aims at understanding the fundamental aspects of the interaction between the formed sheet metal and additive structure determines the corresponding mechanical characteristics. The interaction process during the fabrication exposes the alloy locally to non-optimum thermal cycles and the research therefore aims to understand the various influencing factors involved during the fabrication process. The system technology modifications required to achieve the aimed fabrication are also discussed in the presented research.
Additive manufacturing, characterized by its inherent layer by layer fabrication methodology has been coined by many as the latest revolution in the manufacturing industry. Due to its diversification of Materials, processes, system technology and applications, Additive Manufacturing has been synonymized with terminology such as Rapid prototyping, 3D printing, free-form fabrication, Additive Layer Manufacturing, etc. A huge media and public interest in the technology has led to an innovative attempt of exploring the technology for applications beyond the scope of the traditional engineering industry. Nevertheless, it is believed that a critical factor for the long-term success of Additive Manufacturing would be its ability to fulfill the requirements defined by the traditional manufacturing industry. A parallel development in market trends and product requirements has also lead to a wider scope of opportunities for Additive Manufacturing. The presented paper discusses some of the key challenges which are critical to ensure that Additive Manufacturing is truly accepted as a mainstream production technology in the industry. These challenges would highlight on various aspects of production such as product requirements, process management, data management, intellectual property, work flow management, quality assurance, resource planning, etc. In Addition, changing market trends such as product life cycle, mass customization, sustainability, environmental impact and localized production will form the foundation for the follow up discussion on the current limitations and the corresponding research opportunities. A discussion on ongoing research to address these challenges would include topics like process monitoring, design complexity, process standardization, multi-material and hybrid fabrication, new material development, etc.