Marking its evolution as a central feature of the fourth industrial revolution, additive manufacturing broadly refers to the layer-by-layer “printing” of spatially precise on-demand 3D objects with enhanced design freedom relative to conventional manufacturing technologies. Effective contribution of metal additive manufacturing (MAM) to the vision of Industry 4.0 necessitates a better understanding of the ongoing phenomena during the process to address key challenges related to the quality of the printed parts. The MAM process inherently involves the simultaneous interaction of multi-physical fields and numerical modelling is a robust tool for systematically optimising the build process parameters and conditions so as to achieve the goal of “first-time-right” high-quality production. A thorough quantitative understanding of the MAM process specifically requires insights from different types of computer simulations, namely: thermal, mechanical, metallurgical, and fluid dynamics.

The ongoing research @ Empa focuses on the following topics:
  • Powder-scale modelling (melt pool dynamics, defects)

  • Thermomechanical analysis (residual stress, distortion)

  • Microstructure simulation (grain size/morphology, texture)

  • Mechanical property prediction for MAM parts

  • Exploitation of artificial intelligence in MAM modelling

  • Experimental validation of numerical simulations