Emma Yang, a mechanical engineering assistant professor, earned a grant from the Department of Defense to purchase state-of-the-art equipment that could eventually be used to fix worn parts from anywhere—even Mars.
The technology features both additive and subtractive capabilities, combining a traditional 3D printer (additive) and a computer numerical control machine (subtractive). It has five-axis capability with layer-by-layer 3D printing and a rotary table that will allow the user to print curved and freeform surfaces.
"With this machine, if you have a defective part, or a part that is worn from use, you can just fix the part instead of having to replace it," Dr. Yang says. "The Navy could use this on a ship at sea, and if you combine zero-gravity printing, you could eventually print parts where resources and tools are very limited, like on Mars."
It also has a multimodal, in-situ monitoring system with six devices—including a high-speed camera and infrared temperature monitor—that will allow her to identify any issues or defects that occur during the printing process so they can be corrected immediately. ₪