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Advanced Manufacturing is the use of innovative technologies to create new or existing products. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s advanced manufacturing portfolio can be organized into four main groups: Additive Manufacturing is the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies. Precision Engineering is the design and fabrication of machines, fixtures, and other structure that have exceptionally low tolerances, are repeatable, and are stable over time. Manufacturing Simulation & Automation comprises technologies that reduce human intervention in manufacturing processes, as well as a set of tools that allows for experimentation and validation of product, process, and system designs & configurations. Manufacturing Improvements are inventions that improve throughput/efficiency, or that reduce cost/waste.

Portfolio News and Multimedia

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Energy I-Corps experience shines light on bringing specialty resin to the silicone 3D-printing market

At LLNL, Huang and Ford are working toward developing a new method to make high-performance silicone parts that can be 3D printed and cured using ultraviolet light.  The researchers participated in the Department of Energy’s Energy I-Corps Program, an immersive eight-week entrepreneurial boot camp that teaches scientists and engineers the tools of the trade for commercializing technology from the Lab to the marketplace.

While the Energy I-Corps program is funded by the DOE Office of Technology Transitions, the participation of LLNL’s Ford and Huang in the program was funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

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LLNL and Meta engineers develop 3D-printed material with potential for more lifelike wearables

Engineers and chemists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Meta have developed a new kind of 3D-printed material capable of replicating characteristics of biological tissue, an advancement that could impact the future of “augmented humanity.”

Building Better Materials with Data Science (Digital Twins)

Research engineer Brian Giera, PhD, describes how data science techniques help collect and analyze data from advanced manufacturing processes in order to craft meaningful experiments.

Advanced Manufacturing Technologies

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Stock image of 3d render of network made of wind turbines, solar panels, battery and house

LLNL researchers have designed and produced, both conductive and non-conductive porous electrode components manufactured for improved metal deposition, discharging, and fluid dynamics in hybrid flow batteries.  This is achieved through Direct Ink Writing (DIW) additive manufacturing.  The engineered 3D electrodes enable uniform current distribution and even metal deposition during charging…

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Schematic process of fabricating cell laden microgels via In-Air Drop Encapsulation Apparatus for making tissue constructs possessing gradients in stiffness

LLNL researchers have enhanced and expanded the IDEA technology, which fabricates micron-scale droplets that are then crosslinked in-air (within milliseconds) using a UV light source before collection. An aerodynamically shearing air jet or acoustic vibration force causes rapid droplet formation.

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Picture of SLA printed structures using 3D printable nitrile-containing photopolymer resins

LLNL’s invention is a photopolymerizable polymer resin that consists of one or more nitrile-functional based polymers. The resin is formulated for SLA based 3D printing allowing for the production of nitrile-containing polymer components that can then be thermally processed into a conductive, highly graphitic materials. The novelty of the invention lies in (1) the photo-curable nitrile-…

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Incorporating Si3N4 nanofibers into an optimized ZrB2 formulation (a) 8 vol% (ZrB2), PVA 2wt%; (b) 8.5 vol% (ZrB2 + Si3N4 NF), PVA 2wt%

LLNL researchers refined custom mixing techniques and formulations in order to avoid clumping and fiber agglomerations for a flowable tailored feedstock that produces a homogeneous, survivable thermal barrier coating.  Formulation improvements coupled with unexpected nozzle coupling from Buchi spray dry components leads to the production of fiber containing spray dried feedstock that can…

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Picture of interlocked electrode structure with metal plated surfaces

LLNL researchers have developed a fabrication process for creating 3D random interdigitated architectures of anodes and cathodes, eliminating the need for a membrane to separate them.  This approach is similar to the repeating interdigitated multi-electrode architectures that also were developed at LLNL. 

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Cutaway view of a nozzle with 500µm and 200µm diameter orifices next to each other

LLNL’s invention combines four approaches to enable on-the-fly multi-resolution metal droplet printing:  (1) a nozzle with two or more orifices of varying diameter and length, (2) a set of corresponding pressure pulses that can eject droplets out of some, but not all, orifices in either magnetohydrodynamic (MHD-LMJ) or Pneumatic-LMJ, (3) the ability to change the pressure pulse on demand,…

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Device Assembly IL-13874

LLNL researchers’ approach to this challenge is to design a modular valve subsystem that redirects the flow away from the main nozzle to an “exhaust”. By re-routing the flow to a different exit port, steady state flow can be better maintained.  The re-routing requires actuators that work in tandem; open and close of the nozzle and exhaust valves have to be executed simultaneously.  The…

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Schematic process flow for using and self-releasing an LCE model from cast material

LLNL researchers developed novel workflows where material is first cast into the LCE molds at room temperature.  Upon curing, the mold is induced to expand or contract (change shape) by external stimuli (light, heat, solvent) to self-release.  A reduction to practice example used silica-loaded silicone ink casted into a LCE cylinder mold.  It was cured at 100°C, and self-released from the LCE…

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Examples of different UV exposure patterns printed from the same multi-material resin.  Darker yellow regions have higher UV exposure times leading to tougher regions.

LLNL researchers have developed an innovative and uniform single-pot polymer multi-material system, based on a combination of 3 different reactive chemistries.  By combining the three different constituent monomers, fine control of mechanical attributes, such as elastic modulus, can be achieved by adjusting the dosage of UV light throughout the additive manufacturing process.  This results in…

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Shadowgraph Image from VAM (left).  Fluorescence Image from VAM (right).

Three important aspects of this invention are: (1) the formulation of a photocurable resin containing a fluorophore that exhibits AIE behavior; (2) the method of in-situ and real-time characterization for monitoring the reaction kinetics during the photopolymerization and UV-curing process; and (3) the application of a new 3D steganographic ink for 3D encrypted structure.

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Sequential self-folding of 2D polyimide sheets into 3D microsystems

The approach involves 3D printing hinges made of Pre-Stressed Polymers (“PSP”) onto polyimide (“PI”) substrates.  These hinges are then able to fold in response to externally applied stimuli, such as light.  First, 2D PI devices will be microfabricated.  Then, PSP infused with colored inks will be printed using Direct Ink Write (“DIW”) on the hinges of the PI devices.  When exposed to light…

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Pneumatic DOD-LMJ printhead with supporting setup

LLNL’s approach to meet this challenge is to use a pneumatic DOD-LMJ method wherein the nozzle is filled with a molten pure metal or metal alloy.  There are two reservoirs in LLNL’s invention that are in direct contact with each other: the liquid metal reservoir that is constantly heated so the metal remains molten and an inert gas reservoir, which is connected to an inert gas pressure source…

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Printed TPMS membrane structures using nanoporous photoresist

LLNL researchers have developed novel advanced manufactured biomimetic 3D-TPMS (triply periodic minimal surface) membrane architectures such as a 3D gyroid membrane. The membrane is printed using LLNL's nano-porous photoresist technology.  LLNL’s 3D-TPMS membranes consist of two independent but interpenetrating macropore flow channel systems that are separated by a thin nano-porous wall.  3D-…

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Electrical Resistance diagnostic during a LPBF print process

Electrodes that measure current and voltage are connected to the LPBF build plate by magnetic metal arms.  These arms are placed on a steel weighted base that provides a high degree of mechanical flexibility to conform to small geometries and can be easily incorporated into a complex manufacturing system.  Furthermore, the electrodes are connected to tapered copper tips that can provide strong…

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Images and topology scans of (top row) cold sprayed LLZO (lithium lanthanum zirconium tantalum oxide) and (bottom row) cold sprayed NMC (lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide) on top of LLZTO

LLNL has co-developed a number of technologies thatuse cold spray deposition that enable new designs for functional materials with low waste.

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3D Printing of Ultem® at Ambient Conditions

The novel approach is to make Ultem® into an ink for DIW or droplet printing by dissolving Ultem® in solvents, such as tetrahydrofuran.  This produces a viscous solvent-melt that is loaded into an ambient temperature extrusion system and deposited into a defined structure by the 3D printer.  Solvent mobility is limited by the polymer structure, and further solvent removal allows multiple…

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coextrusion nozzle takes 3 materials and prints them together in a coaxial geometry

LLNL’s novel approach is to use Direct Ink Write (DIW) with a co-extrusion nozzle to enable the extrusion of multiple materials as one coil.  With this method, LLNL researchers were able to produce an insulating wire that is composed of three different materials, axial conducting and insulating from its inner core to its outer sheath.  After heat treatment, the printed wireI was then tested…

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Optimization using component-wise ROM

Beam Element-based Topology Optimization (“BETO”) is one of the conventional ways to design microstructures.  It starts with an initial design that is composed of many beam elements.  LLNL’s invention uses accurate Component-wise Reduced Order Models (“CWROM”) rather than the inaccurate beam elements.  In doing so, the process becomes computationally efficient and fast, as each reduced order…

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High level diagram for in-situ characterization of projectiles in flight or falling droplets

LLNL’s novel approach is to use waveguide-based devices and microwave energy to perform characterization of the projectile or droplet.  Various embodiments of droplet devices can determine the size, motion (position, velocity, and acceleration), rate, and material elements of a moving element.  This invention uses a tubular housing having a first end (input port) and a second end (output port…

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Schematic of a mechanical logic gate

LLNL’s approach to designing logic gates uses heuristic as well as with the Freedom and Constraint Topologies (FACT) methods; these gates are then produced using existing additive manufacturing processes.  The 10,122,365 and 10,678,293 patents describe how to fabricate the gates; the 10,855,259 patent describes ho

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Current (left) and proposed (right) high density localized electrochemical deposition (HD-LECD) printing instrument.

LLNL’s approach is to design and fabricate a massively-parallel microanode printhead using a custom complementary metal-oxide semiconductor integrated circuit (CMOS IC) chip with independent electronics for each pixel.  This microanode in close proximity to the cathode surface will electroplate dissolved ions into a small voxel.  The probe then moves and continues to deposit material creating…

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Metal droplet printing in droplet mode (A) and constant pressure mode (B).

LLNL researchers have developed an approach is to use pneumatic droplet ejection devices to rapidly 3D print solid metal parts that also have a smoother surface finish than conventional liquid metal printing.  Pneumatic droplet ejection printers can be used in two different modes: “droplet mode” uses pulsed gas pressure to create individual droplets of liquid metal that are collected to build…

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SEM images of powder particles after partial sintering

LLNL has developed a process to partially sinter starting material composed of smaller-sized powder particles to obtain a loose powder product that have larger-sized particles.   To avoid the undesired formation of a single fully-sintered piece, the starting powder material is heated for a relatively shorter time.  The time and temperature required for partial sintering is dependent on the…

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Electrodeposition of Zn onto 3D printed copper nanowire (CuNW)

Improving the active material of the Zn anode is critical to improving the practicality of Zn-MnO2 battery technology. LLNL researchers have developed a new category of 3D structured Zn anode using a direct-ink writing (DIW) printing process to create innovative hierarchical architectures.  The DIW ink, which is a gel-based mixture composed of zinc metal powder and organic binders, is extruded…

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A sample of micro-architectured graphene aerogel, made from one of the lightest materials on Earth, sits atop a flower.

To overcome challenges that existing techniques for creating 3DGs face, LLNL researchers have developed a method that uses a light-based 3D printing process to rapidly create 3DG lattices of essentially any desired structure with graphene strut microstructure having pore sizes on the order of 10 nm. This flexible technique enables printing 3D micro-architected graphene objects with complex,…

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A schematic showing the cylinder style powder remover in action.  The electrode rotates while moving across the powder bed and attracts the excess powder/debris onto the dielectric layer

The novel approach developed by LLNL researchers is to use an electric field as the non-contact-based powder remover.  The main components of the remover are an electrode and a dielectric layer.  As the remover moves across the stage, a high voltage is applied to the electrode that forms an electric field between the electrode and the powder bed.  Under the influence of the electric field, the…

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A digital twin (right) is the virtual representation of real-world objects and processes (left)

LLNL’s novel approach utilizes a number of techniques to improve reconstruction accuracy:

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Illustration for 3-D Ultrasound Polymerization

This novel AM approach utilizes cavitation bubbles generated within liquid resin by ultrasonic energy that trigger, induce, or catalyze a polymerization process (3D Ultrasound Polymerization). Ultrasound may be generated by piezoelectric transducers or high-power lasers and by modulating the ultrasound wave (frequency and amplitude), the cavitation site could be directed.

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A microwave VAM system. Dynamic microwave fields from the applicator array focuses energy to arbitrary regions in the resin.

LLNL’s MVAM method comprises of a microwave applicator array coupled to a time-reversal beam steering algorithm to focus and deposit microwave energy in the feedstock material.  The selective focusing of high-power microwave fields results in delivery of localized energy to arbitrary regions in a 3D volume.  The localized area in the 3D volume heats up, allowing for the curing, sintering or…

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Comparison of fiber-reinforced polymer composite with fiber-reinforced glass composite

The approach is to combine the techniques of 3D printing aligned carbon fiber composites and melt-3D printing of glasses in a non-obvious manner to allow 3D printing (with controlled microstructure, fiber alignment, complex geometries, and advanced second order composite properties) of a new class of additively manufactured fiber-glass composites.  It involves four major elements: 

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Two-photon lithography print configuration modes: (a) traditional immersion medium vs. (b) dip-in laser lithography. (c) Scanning electron micrographs of a 2.5 mm tall pillar in the form of a gyroidal lattice printed in dip-in lithography with a photo-resin with a refractive index of 1.52

LLNL’s approach to producing refractive index matching (RIM) resin is to use a commercially available material known as polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS) precursors.  To tune the refractive index, POSS can be functionalized with additives such as phenylthiol, until the refracted index match is achieved.  For example, for a 1.4 NA oil objective lens, a RIM resin with a refractive…

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New class of lattice-based substrates

To get the best of both worlds – the sensitivity of LC-MS with the speed of PS-MS – and a functional substrate that can maintain sample integrity, LLNL researchers looked to 3D printing.  They have patented a novel approach to create lattice spray substrates for direct ionization mass spectroscopy using 3D-printing processes.

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3D Printing of High Viscosity Reinforced Silicone Elastomers

LLNL researchers, through careful control over the chemistry, network formation, and crosslink density of the ink formulations as well as introduction of selected additives, have been successful in preparing 3D printable silicone inks with tunable material properties.  For DIW (direct in writing) applications, LLNL has a growing IP portfolio around 3D printable silicone feedstocks for diverse…

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3D Printing of Fiber Reinforced Composite Thermoset Structures

LLNL’s method of 3D printing fiber-reinforced composites has two enabling features:

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STEP File Tensor

MBD captures the complete specification of a part in digital form and leverages (at least) the universal STEP file format. MBD has revolutionized manufacturing due to time and cost savings associated with containing all engineering data within a single digital source. LLNL researchers have been able to develop a novel encoding method to transform digital definitions in any given STEP file into…

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A cold-spray chamber is shown during deposition, with the nozzle at the top of the image and a near-full density sample being fabricated in the center. Particles of the brittle thermoelectric bismuth telluride are accelerated to more than 900 meters per second, or almost Mach 3, in inert gas and directed onto a copper surface, laying down the strips that form the basis of a functioning thermoelectric generator to harvest waste heat. Graphic by Jacob Long/LLNL
Versatile Cold Spray (VCS) enables deposition of brittle materials, such as thermoelectrics, magnets, and insulators, while retaining their functional properties. Materials can be deposited on substrates or arbitrary shapes with no requirement to match compositions. The VCS system is low cost, easily portable, and easy to use. VCS has been developed in a collaboration between Lawrence Livermore…
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graphic_of_simulation
Livermore researchers have developed a method for implementing closed-loop control in extrusion printing processes by means of novel sensing, machine learning, and optimal control algorithms for the optimization of printing parameters and controllability. The system includes a suite of sensors, including cameras, voltage and current meters, scales, etc., that provide in-situ process monitoring…
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Intensification of laser in simulations and electrons being accelerated

LLNL pioneered the use of tomographic reconstruction to determine the power density of electron beams using profiles of the beam taken at a number of angles. LLNL’s earlier diagnostic consisted of a fixed number of radially oriented sensor slits and required the beam to be circled over them at a fixed known diameter to collect data. The new sensor design incorporates annular slits instead,…

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multichannel_pyrometer

LLNL researchers have designed and tested performance characteristics for a multichannel pyrometer that works in the NIR from 1200 to 2000 nm. A single datapoint without averaging can be acquired in 14 microseconds (sampling rate of 70,000/s). In conjunction with a diamond anvil cell, the system still works down to about 830K.

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CAL Computed Axial Lithography

LLNL has developed a system and method that accomplishes volumetric fabrication by applying computed tomography (CT) techniques in reverse, fabricating structures by exposing a photopolymer resin volume from multiple angles, updating the light field at each angle. The necessary light fields are spatially and/or temporally multiplexed, such that their summed energy dose in a target resin volume…

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microencapsulation_manufacture
Livermore researchers have developed a method of fabricating functional polymer-based particles by crosslinking UV-curable polymer drops in mid-air and collecting crosslinked particles in a solid container, a liquid suspension, or an air flow. Particles could contain different phases in the form or layered structures that contain one to multiple cores, or structures that are blended with…
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Nanoscale 3d printing

LLNL has solved the challenges of depth-resolved parallel TPL by using a temporal focusing technique in addition to the spatial focusing technique used in serial writing systems. We temporally focus the beam (through optical set-up design) so that a sharp Z-plane can be resolved while projecting 2D “light sheets” that cause localized photo-polymerization. This enables printing of complex 3D…

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Optics

The LLNL method for optimizing as built optical designs uses insights from perturbed optical system theory and reformulates perturbation of optical performance in terms of double Zernikes, which can be calculated analytically rather than by tracing thousands of rays. A new theory of compensation is enabled by the use of double Zernikes which allows the performance degradation of a perturbed…

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am_radioopaque_parts

LLNL has developed an optically clear iodine-doped resist that increases the mean atomic number of the part. AM parts fabricated with this resist appear radio-opaque due to an increase in the X-ray attenuation by a factor of 10 to 20 times. Optical clarity is required so that the photons can penetrate the liquid to initiate polymerization and radio opacity is required to enable 3D computed…

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Nanoporus gold

By combining 3D printing and dealloying., researchers at LLNL have developed a method for fabricating metal foams with engineered hierarchical architectures consisting of pores at least 3 distinct length scales. LLNL’s method uses direct ink writing (DIW), a 3D printing technique for additive manufacturing to fabricate hierarchical nanoporous metal foams with deterministically controlled 3D…

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Machine Learning for Monitoring microfluidic microcapsules
LLNL researchers have developed a system that relies on machine learning to monitor microfluidic devices. The system includes (at least) a microfluidic device, sensor(s), and a local network computer. The system could also include a camera that takes real-time images of channel(s) within an operating microfluidic device. A subset of these images can be used to train/teach a machine learning…
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Metal 3d printing

LLNL scientists have developed a new metal additive manufacturing technique that uses diode lasers in conjunction with a programmable mask to generate 2D patterns of energy at the powder surface. The method can produce entire layers in a single laser shot, rather than producing layers spot by spot as is currently done in powder bed fusion methods.

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3D printed material by design
Livermore materials scientists and engineers are designing and building new materials that will open up new spaces on many Ashby material selection charts, such as those for stiffness and density as well as thermal expansion and stiffness. This is being accomplished with unique design algorithms and research into the additive manufacturing techniques of projection microstereolithography, direct…