Joint Capabilities Development Effort With NASA & AFRL/NCDMM Leads To Surface Finishing Processes For Large-scale Additively Manufactured Components

Posted by on
Freitag, Juni 21st, 2024 in

Metal additive manufacturing (AM) can revolutionize metal component production by reducing operation steps, scrap, lead time, and/or cost. It can optimize part design, enhancing characteristics like shape and weight. Despite its benefits, AM poses challenges such as high surface textures, defects, and residual stresses, affecting mechanical strength and performance. Defects, including significant surface roughness and near-surface pores, hinder widespread adoption, necessitating post-processing for defect removal. Traditional methods like grinding are limited due to AM component complexity. REM specializes in surface finishing solutions with advanced surface finishing technology, addressing these challenges and unlocking AM’s full potential across industries.

In a successful SBIR Phase I and II effort with NASA, REM developed a prototype processing cell as well as an optimized finishing technique (OFT) for AM components (especially focused on rocket engine components) with maximum dimensions of ~30” x 30” x 24”. The developed technology is capable of significantly improving the surface roughness of the as-built components by uniformly removing surface material and near-surface defects. In addition, the uniform surface material removal allows the use of the OFT to reduce the wall thickness of AM components, overcoming the limitation of minimal wall-thickness allowances of printing technologies.

After a successful demonstration of the developed technologies and processes, NASA expressed the need to process considerably larger DED-LB/p/metal rocket engine components. AFRL expressed a similar need, associated with newer PBF-LB machines featuring larger build volumes, capable of printing significantly larger components. By incorporating AFRL funds into a NASA Phase IIE effort, REM was awarded the opportunity to successfully meet the needs of both programs.

Through this program, REM developed an OFT and apparatus that meets these scaling challenges and maintains all established capabilities and benefits of the previously demonstrated technology. This scaled technology is capable of processing components up to ~60” in diameter x ~72’ in length/height.


As the culmination of this program, REM successfully executed both NASA and AFRL demonstration component processing, meeting and/or exceeding all material removal, material removal uniformity, and surface roughness reduction targets.
The developed technology enables the printing of thicker walls which can then be reduced to final target dimensions via the OFT, resulting in improved material properties and surface finish. Thus, REM’s OFT helps to enable the actualization of AM’s many manufacturing and component benefits for large-scale applications.

REM presented these results at the America Makes 2024 Spring Technology Review & Exchange (TRX), and aspects of this work were featured in the recent, April 2024 Momentum newsletter from Elementum 3D.

REM thanks NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (Paul Gradl), AFRL / National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM, Litsa Rubino), Elementum3D, and RPMI for their time, efforts, and contributions to this success.


About REM Surface Engineering

REM Surface Engineering, the inventor of the ISF® Process, the Rapid ISF® Process, the Extreme ISF® Process, and the REM® Process, is a global leader in providing surface engineering solutions. The REM’s isotropic superfinishing technologies are value-adding and performance-enhancing improvements to conventional machining operations such as grinding and lapping. Founded in 1965 in Southington, CT by Robert Michaud, REM Surface Engineering is a family-owned company that has proudly been serving our partners and customers for over 55 years. REM Surface Engineering operates four locations in Brenham, TX, Southington, CT, Merrillville, IN, St. Neots, UK, and Krefeld, DE that provide products and services globally.