Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Additive Manufacturing (AM) research was initiated at KU Leuven by Professor Jean-Pierre Kruth in 1990. Already in 1991, the AM-group started investigating the possibilities to manufacture metallic parts by means of laser-based processes such as Selective Laser Melting (SLM). To facilitate process optimisation, the AM-group designed and built their own SLM apparatus, equipped with a real-time process monitoring system. These developments were commercialized in a spin-off company ‘3DS-LayerWise’ which is purely focusing on the production of metal SLM parts.
At present, the AM-group is continuing and extending their research activities in different areas related to laser-based AM:
1) Broadening the materials palette for AM (ceramics, aluminium, biomaterials, …),
2) Relating process conditions to static and dynamic mechanical properties via analysis of microstructure, texture, porosity, thermal stresses, … c) Machine design and process optimisation (software and hardware) and d) Quality control (X-ray CT, process monitoring, post-build treatments)
One of the strengths of the KU Leuven AM group is the close collaboration between researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering with the Chemical Engineering Department (CIT), and the Material Science Department (MTM). This is definitely an important factor for past successes and it gives a promising outlook for future developments.
In the HIPERCO project, KU Leuven optimizes the AM parameters and analyzes together with CEA environmental impacts and benefit of the developed technology throught a Life Cycle Assessment study.