Purdue University to Establish Thermwood LSAM Research Laboratory

Posted by Duane Marrett on Tue, Apr 13, 2021

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, Purdue, Thermwood LSAM, Thermwood LSAM Research Laboratory

Purdue University’s Composites Manufacturing Simulation Center (CMSC) and Thermwood Corporation have agreed to establish a large scale additive manufacturing laboratory to perform industry-funded research into large scale composite thermoplastic additive manufacturing.

Purdue Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Center

Thermwood LSAM Logo

The new facility will be located in Purdue’s Indiana Manufacturing Institute located in the Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette, Indiana and will be staffed and operated by Purdue CMSC personnel. The official name for the new facility is the Thermwood LSAM Research Laboratory at Purdue University”.

LSAM Additive Printer (10'x5')

Thermwood LSAM Additive Printer 10'x5'

About the Thermwood LSAM Reseach Laboratory at Purdue University

The new laboratory will be equipped with an LSAM 105 (ten-five) Large Scale Additive Printer and a corresponding 5 axis LSAM Additive Trimmer plus a variety of support systems. This installation is capable of printing and trimming complex geometries up to five feet by ten feet by four feet tall at print rates of up to 100 lbs. per hour. Commercial maximum print temperature for LSAM printers is usually limited to 450oC, however, this particular system has been modified to allow testing at even higher temperatures for experimentation with innovations in materials normally not used in additive manufacturing.

This effort will be enhanced with the newly announced ability of Thermwood’s LSAM large scale additive manufacturing systems to measure and precisely control the temperature of a printed layer at the instant a new layer is deposited. This will support research into the very core of the additive print process and will serve to provide validation of Purdue’s extensive additive manufacturing simulation capabilities for large scale additive manufacturing.


Not only will this effort improve the overall quality of large scale additive printing but it should also increase our knowledge and understanding of the basic process of fusing layers together into a homogeneous structure”
says Ken Susnjara, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Thermwood.


Extrusion deposition composites additive manufacturing is a major innovation that will contribute to the development of tailored products with unique performance and just in time availability.”  
Adds Dr. R. Byron Pipes, Executive Director of Purdue’s Composite Manufacturing & Simulation Center, the research organization where the LSAM system will be installed.


Purdue plans to partner with industry to provide services to enhance, encourage and expand the adoption of large-scale additive manufacturing for diverse industrial applications. They also plan to work with polymer suppliers to refine formulations and determine the ideal processing parameters necessary to produce the absolute highest quality large scale printed parts possible.

Collaborative efforts of this type bring together diverse organizations that each specialize in different aspects of this emerging technology and often produce results that none of the participants could possibly achieve on their own. Both Purdue and Thermwood are confident that this will be the outcome of their collaborative effort.

About the Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Center

The Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Center (CMSC) of the College of Engineering and the Purdue Polytechnic are located in over 30,000 square feet of the Indiana Manufacturing Institute building. CMSC consists of faculty experts in composites manufacturing, a professional staff of doctoral degree engineers, a support staff and research students in doctoral, masters and bachelor’s degree programs of the Schools Aeronautics and Astronautics, Chemical Engineering and Materials Engineering, as well as, the Department of Aviation Technology in the Polytechnic.

Purdue Manufacturing and Composites Research Center

A comprehensive set of laboratories is available at the IMI for the study of composites manufacturing processes, characterization of composite materials, and the validation of simulation software essential to development and verification of the digital twin concepts in composite manufacture and performance. Focus specialties include extrusion deposition additive manufacturing, composites autoclave processing of continuous fiber systems, compression and injection molding of discontinuous fiber composites, prepreg impregnation, infusion molding, sheet forming, complex mold-forming and hybrid continuous/discontinuous fiber systems. Workflow simulations are being developed to provide for end-to-end digital twins of these manufacturing processes. Accordingly, manufacturing informed performance predictions are a direct outcome of these workflow analyses.

3DEXPERIENCE Education Center of Excellence in Advanced Composites

To advance the development of digital twin, digital thread and model-based engineering, Dassault Systèmes and CMSC established the 3DEXPERIENCE Education Center of Excellence in Advanced Composites on October 28, 2020. The simulation center was founded on a seven-year partnership between Purdue University and Dassault Systèmes (2013-2020) and it is expected that this new engagement will bring significant benefits to the new relationship with Thermwood as the partners work together to bring the advantages of the digital age to society.

3DEXPERIENCE Platform and Thermwood LSAM

Together, they will advance the digital enterprise by developing the human talent essential to this new paradigm and by utilizing the Thermwood LSAM technology and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to exercise digital twins of complex composites manufacturing and performance to demonstrate the power to predict phenomena that are understood today only by empirical experiences. The Partnership will work together to introduce these concepts to a wide range of industries within the advanced composites community from the original equipment manufacturer level to the supply chain industries. The philosophy of these relationships will be to create a learning environment at multiple levels – from advanced research in manufacturing and performance of advanced composites to the engagement of students at all levels needed to build the workforce of the future for Industry 4.0.

LSAM Info Request

Thermwood and Purdue Successfully Compression Mold Parts Using Printed Tooling

Posted by Duane Marrett on Mon, Nov 11, 2019

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, Purdue, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, Compression


Thermwood and Purdue’s Composite Manufacturing & Simulation Center have been working together to develop and test methods of using 3D printed composite molds for the compression molding of thermoset parts. They have just announced that they have successfully been able to compression mold test parts using 3D printed composite tooling.

Thermwood and Purdue’s Composite Manufacturing & Simulation Center have been working together to develop and test methods of using 3D printed composite molds for the compression molding of thermoset parts. They have just announced that they have successfully been able to compression mold test parts using 3D printed composite tooling.

Final part has over 50% carbon fiber volume

The test part, a half scale thrust reverser blocker door for a jet engine, was designed at Purdue and is approximately 10x13x2 inch in size. The two-part matched compression mold for the part was 3D printed using Techmer PM 25% carbon fiber reinforced PESU at Thermwood, using its LSAM large scale additive manufacturing system.

The mold halves were then machined to final size and shape on the same system. The completed tool was next taken to Purdue’s Composite Manufacturing & Simulation Center, in West Lafayette Indiana, where it was mounted to their 250 ton compression press. Parts were then molded from Dow’s new Vorafuse prepreg platelet material system with over 50% carbon fiber volume fraction.

The Details

Both halves of the mold were printed at the same time during a single 2 hour and 34 minute print cycle. When using Thermwood’s “continuous cooling” print process, the polymer cooling determines the cycle time for each layer, allowing both halves to be printed in the same time it would take to print one half (since both parts could be printed in the layer cooling time available).

Both halves of the mold were printed in less then 3 hours

Both halves of the mold were printed in less than 3 hours

Machining, however, must be done in the traditional manner, one part at a time, although there is an advantage to machining printed parts. Since the part is printed to near net shape, the overall amount of material that must be removed is significantly less than if the tool was machined from a solid block. Machining of the two mold halves required an additional 27 hours.

The first attempt at compression molding was not successful, but techniques were developed to account for the mechanical and thermal conductivity characteristics of the polymer print material and a second attempt produced acceptable parts.

The team determined that using printed composite molds in a compression press does require a significantly different approach than a tool for the same part machined from a block of metal. First, the tool must be internally heated since the polymer composite doesn’t transmit heat as well as metal. Thermwood developed a technique for deep hole boring of the printed composite part using the trim head on its LSAM machine, allowing the deep insertion of cartridge heaters.

A special heat control allows the temperature of various areas of the tool to be controlled independently, helping address the challenge of balancing the thermal characteristics of the thermoplastic composite mold with the processing temperature requirements of the thermoset material being processed.

Printed polymer composite mold must be heated and reinforced

Printed polymer composite mold must be heated and reinforced

Printed polymer composite mold must be heated and reinforced

Printed polymer composite mold must be heated and reinforced

Also, the outside of the mold must be reinforced so that the composite polymer used for the mold itself is under only compression loads and not tension during the molding operation, since forces developed during molding are greater than the tensile strength of the composite polymers used for the mold. This approach has successfully withstood molding pressure of 1,500 PSI during initial testing and the team believes even higher pressures are possible.

Parts were made on Purdue’s 250 ton compression press

Parts were made on Purdue’s 250 ton compression press

Parts were made on Purdue’s 250 ton compression press

Parts were made on Purdue’s 250 ton compression press

Parts were made on Purdue’s 250 ton compression press

Parts were made on Purdue’s 250 ton compression press

Final Thoughts

Both Thermwood and Purdue believe this is an important first step in bringing additive manufacturing to compression molding. The speed and relatively low cost of printed compression tools has the potential to significantly modify current industry practices. Printed tools are ideal for prototyping and can potentially avoid problems with long lead time, expensive production tools by validating the design before a final version is built.

Additional development effort will be needed to further refine tool design and broaden the range of parts that this process will support, but all parties involved believe that this project demonstrates the viability of the basic approach.

Potential applications in the auto industry include prototyping and production tool verification. Because of high volume requirements for auto production, it is unlikely that these tools would function adequately for full production use, but actual useful production life is still unknown. It will require additional testing to determine just how many parts can be molded from an additive manufactured compression mold and what the ultimate failure mode actually is.

In aerospace, parts tend to be much larger and production volumes much lower, so it is possible that printed compression molds could find actual production use for larger, lower volume aerospace components, perhaps replacing open face tools and autoclaves for certain parts.

The relatively low cost and fast build rate of these additive molds significantly alters the decision matrix and timeline for developing new products using compression molding.

Purdue’s Composites Manufacturing & Simulation Center

The Composites Manufacturing & Simulation Center (CMSC) is a bridge between the academic and industrial communities, connecting the global composites industry and Indiana manufacturing to Purdue University.  The CMSC research is driven by industry needs and grounded in academic rigor.  Global sponsors and partners include aerospace and automotive OEMs, Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, materials suppliers, wind turbine manufacturers, and commercial software providers.  The CMSC is a collaboration of the College of Engineering and the Purdue Polytechnic Institute and is a Purdue University Center of Excellence.

State-of-the-art manufacturing and characterization facilities provide a one-stop-shop for composites design, manufacturing, prototyping and model validation.  Finally, the CMSC is dedicated to training engineers across the entire composites community in composites manufacturing and simulation.

Thermwood Corporation

Thermwood is a US based, multinational, diversified CNC machinery manufacturer that markets its products and services through offices in 11 countries. Thermwood is the oldest manufacturer of highly flexible 3 & 5 axis high-speed machining centers known as CNC routers.

Thermwood has also become the technology and market leader in large scale additive manufacturing systems for thermoplastic composite molds, tooling, patterns and parts with its line of LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) machines that both 3D print and trim on the same machine. These are some of the largest and most capable additive manufacturing systems ever produced and are marketed to major companies in the aerospace, marine, automotive and foundry industries as well as military, government and defense contractors.

Thermwood 10'x20' LSAM

10’ x 20’ LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing)


Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Purdue Student Wins First Place in Furniture Design Contest at AWFS

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Jul 24, 2009

Tags: Thermwood, CNC, 3 Axis, Trade Shows, AWFS, Furniture, Winner, Prize, Student, Purdue

Purdue University has two Thermwood routers, and recently had a student win first place in furniture design at AWFS: 

Leah Kenttamaa Squires, a student at Purdue University, West Lafayette, recently received a First Place Award for her entry SAKURA HANA in Fresh Wood, a national competition for woodworking projects sponsored by the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS). Judges Dan Hershberger, AWFS Board Member, left) and Randy Johnson, editor, American Woodworker (right) presented Kentamaa-Squires with her award at AWFS Fair 2009, in Las Vegas, NV.

Leah Kenttamaa-Squires created this award-winning piece in a class Furniture Design for CNC Manufacturing in Fall of 2008, under the leadership of professors R. Gazo, E. Haviarova, R. Paul and Wood Research Laboratory technician D. Warner. The course is a joint effort between the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources and the School of Visual and Performing Arts.

The 50 finalists were chosen from 169 entries from 49 different schools in North America. Hongtao Zhou a former Purdue student who graduated in 2008 from the same program and now teaches design at University of Wisconsin in Madison received an Honorable Mention at the same competition.

Purdue University has two Thermwood routers, and recently had a student win first place in furniture design at AWFS:

 

Purdue Student Wins First Place in Furniture Design Contest