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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS SYSTEM
Doing Business As Name:University of Arkansas
PD/PI:
  • Wenchao Zhou
  • (479) 575-7250
  • zhouw@uark.edu
Award Date:04/07/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 50,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 50,000
  • FY 2021=$50,000
Start Date:04/01/2021
End Date:09/30/2021
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:I-Corps: Microheater Array Powder Sintering Technology for Additive Manufacturing
Federal Award ID Number:2119897
DUNS ID:191429745
Parent DUNS ID:055600001
Program:I-Corps
Program Officer:
  • Ruth Shuman
  • (703) 292-2160
  • rshuman@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:1125 W. Maple Street
City:Fayetteville
State:AR
ZIP:72702-3124
County:Fayetteville
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:03

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Arkansas
Street:1125 W. Maple Street
City:Fayetteville
State:AR
ZIP:72702-3124
County:Fayetteville
Country:US
Cong. District:03

Abstract at Time of Award

The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is the development of a high-speed additive manufacturing technology, Microheater Array Powder Sintering (MAPS). The proposed technology may be used for high-volume production with a wide range of engineering materials at a cost competitive with traditional manufacturing. This may have a transformative impact on the manufacturing industry by facilitating the transition to fully digital manufacturing, enabling mass customization, and transforming how products are made and consumed. While the proposed MAPS technology potentially may impact many different industries (e.g., printed electronics, 3D printing) due to its significant advantages in energy consumption, equipment cost, manufacturing time, and process control, the initial focus is on the potential of MAPS for rapid prototyping and small volume production of plastic parts. Compared to other existing solutions in the market (e.g., selective laser sintering), MAPS may better serve the market needs in several areas including feedback control of the printing process for better part quality, higher printing speed, and lower cost of equipment and ownership. This may reduce the barrier of adopting additive manufacturing and accelerate the transition to digital manufacturing. This I-Corps project is based on the development of a Microheater Array Powder Sintering (MAPS) technology for additive manufacturing. The proposed technology uses a microheater array to digitally deliver a focused heat pattern and selectively sinter powder particles by placing the microheater array in close proximity to the powder surface. Compared to selective laser sintering (SLS) that uses a laser to fuse powder particles with point-wise scanning, MAPS uses an microheater array that may include thousands of microheater elements for line-wise or layer-wise printing. These printing processes enable significantly higher printing speeds. In contrast to high-cost lasers, a microheater array is an array of tiny thin-film resistors that may be fabricated at relatively low-cost using MEMS fabrication techniques. In addition, MAPS has much lower power consumption. Compared to a laser that typically requires 10s or 100s of watts of power for SLS, each microheater typically consumes 100s of milliwatts of power to achieve similar results. Moreover, MAPS enables easy feedback control. In contrast to a laser that delivers energy in an open-loop fashion without knowing the temperature, a microheater is also a temperature sensor, which allows for precise temperature control and enables feedback process control. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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