LLNL and GE develop a multibeam metal 3D printer

Lawrence Livermore scientists and engineers are working alongside GE Global Research to design and develop a commercial-grade multibeam metal 3D printing platform, a project funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory. Pictured are LLNL scientists Jenny Wang (left) and Aiden Martin. Photos by Julie Russell/LLNL

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists and engineers have created the first research-grade, open-architecture multibeam metal 3D printer and are developing advanced diagnostics to understand the mechanics behind the multibeam process under a project funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Working alongside GE Global Research to design and develop a commercial-grade open-architecture, multibeam platform, Lab scientists and engineers are performing focused experiments as part of a larger overall project funded by America Makes, a private-public partnership aimed at accelerating additive manufacturing and 3D printing. The project also would require upgrading software developed by LLNL and GE to incorporate multibeam technology.

A team led by materials scientist Aiden Martin created a custom-built, two-beam metal 3D printer to investigate how multiple lasers work together to build a part and what can occur during operation to cause defects.

Martin’s team has successfully built objects with the system and has begun characterizing the parts. His team will work on diagnostic techniques such as high-speed optical imaging and beam profiling to examine new multibeam techniques and the causes of defects.