Johns Hopkins to launch center of excellence focused on additive manufacturing

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL; Laurel, MD) has established a center of excellence to guide major advances in additive manufacturing, which is rapidly revolutionizing how a wide variety of parts and systems are designed and built. The profound transformation caused by additive manufacturing is being accompanied by a wave of research on new materials, the potential integration of electronics into devices as they are made, printing biological structures, and the emergence of nanoengineering.

The view inside the build chamber of APL’s metal powder bed fusion additive manufacturing system, where a high-power laser is transforming fine metal powder into complex, solid metal parts, one thin layer (40 micrometers) at a time. Credit: JHU/APL.

The center will initially focus on significant technical challenges that are currently preventing more widespread adoption of additive manufacturing technologies in the Department of Defense (DoD) and also on topics of interest to the intelligence community. Other future initiatives will include printed microelectronics and bioprinting.

APL's metal powder-bed fusion additive manufacturing system, which is used for part production and research and development in support of APL's DoD, space, and intelligence community programs. Credit: JHU/APL

The center will engage in the following activities:

  • Additive manufacturing design and fabrication services for prototypes and limited volume runs, in support of sponsor programs;
  • Research on new design and fabrication methods, and new materials for additive manufacturing;
  • Research on the characterization, testing, and evaluation of additive manufacturing processes;
  • Exploring the innovative applications of embedded electronic circuits;
  • Pioneering the use of additive manufacturing in the creation of biological parts and organs;
  • Serving as a trusted agent for additive manufacturing test and evaluation; and
  • Serving as a trusted advisor on application of additive manufacturing in the DoD and intelligence community projects.

The new center builds on APL’s expertise and capabilities in metal and polymer additive manufacturing, mechanical design, materials science, physics, intelligent systems, and bioengineering. The Lab plans to invest in additional powder-bed fusion and hybrid additive-subtractive manufacturing systems.

Additive manufacturing engineer John Slotwinski checks the progress of complex metal parts being fabricated inside APL's metal powder-bed fusion additive manufacturing system. Credit: JHU/APL

The center will also collaborate with other organizations in the Hopkins Enterprise, including the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, to leverage their expertise and provide potential research opportunities for students.

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