Sarat Singamneni is currently an Associate Professor at the Auckland University of Technology, leading a team of researchers, pursuing different lines of inquiry in additive manufacturing. Process evaluation, enhancement, and alternative materials are the main themes of the AM research ongoing under his supervision. Curved and mixed layer slicing for fused deposition modelling, polymer, biopolymer and polymer composite alternatives for both fused deposition and selective laser sintering and alloys such as duplex stainless steels as new metal choices for selective laser melting are the significant contributions from his team. Considering the thermally sensitive structures resulting from selective laser melting, he took the binder-jet route to harness different ceramic compositions for 3D printing. Conventional consolidation mechanisms of both civil and foundry engineering materials are used to successfully develop plaster-based and plaster-less ceramic compositions for 3D printing. While these are mainly used for rapid casting at present, extending their applications in civil construction and architecture is currently under investigation. Apart from fundamental research in both materials and processes, Sarat Singamneni also strives significantly helping the uptake of additive manufacturing by the end users, closely working with numerous New Zealand industries; Air new Zealand, Airwork, Henley’s Propellers, and NueNZ are notable examples.
Keynote Speech Abstract
Title: Additive Manufacturing for the Aerospace Industry
A grounded plane is a huge financial crisis, while a travel into the space is a mission as big as the space itself. Time-consuming and restrictive manufacturing solutions are at the heart of the concerns the aerospace industries constantly face, though typical differences exist between the commercial air and the space travel scenarios. With commercial aircraft, the maintenance and management tasks are constantly hindered by the lack of spare parts either just-in-time manufactured or extracted from the supply chain. The result is the enormous inventory aircraft industries maintain in order to have timely supply of spares as and when needed. Direct digital manufacturing of spare parts as and when needed, if made possible, would be the perfect solution for most problems of the aerospace industries. In particular, the aircraft maintenance and management teams around the world would immediately embrace any such developments.
The rapid prototyping approaches have created a great stir in the manufacturing realm as the technologies grew in leaps and bounds and gradually transformed into a suite of new solutions, referred to as additive manufacturing. The initial euphoria and the hype are now overcome by hopes of potential new technologies, as specific techniques have evolved and emerged as direct digital manufacturing solutions. Both material and process enhancements were behind the long strides that were taken during the past decade. Conversion of raw materials directly into complex 3D forms based on CAD data with no complex tooling and associated delays opens up a plethora of new expectations and opportunities. The interesting question now is; how these new developments could help with the expensive and complex inventory and supply chain systems of the aircraft industry? The keynote address explores this question and provides some answers through a critical analysis of the progress already made, the questions as yet unanswered and the future courses of action. The initiatives already in progress through the investments by global players such as GE aviation, Airbus, and Boeing will be briefly elucidated while also critically examining some of the direct experiences of the presenter.