Operator Burden in Metal Additive Manufacturing

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Elliott, A.M.
Love, L.J.

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University of Texas at Austin


Additive manufacturing (AM) is an emerging manufacturing process that creates usable machine parts via layer-by-layer joining of a stock material. With this layer-wise approach, high-performance geometries can be created which are impossible with traditional manufacturing methods. Metal AM technology has the potential to significantly reduce the manufacturing burden of developing custom hardware; however, a major consideration in choosing a metal AM system is the required amount of operator involvement (i.e., operator burden) in the manufacturing process. The operator burden not only determines the amount of operator training and specialization required but also the usability of the system in a facility. As operators of several metal AM processes, the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at Oak Ridge National Labs is uniquely poised to provide insight into requirements for operator involvement in each of the three major metal AM processes. The paper covers an overview of each of the three metal AM technologies, focusing on the burden on the operator to complete the build cycle, process the part for final use, and reset the AM equipment for future builds.


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