Rapid Prototyping Center

3D Parts manufactured by the Rapid Prototyping Center
The Rapid Prototyping Center (RPC) is a world recognized leader in additive manufacturing (3D printing) research, education and outreach. Established in 1993 as a collaboration between UofL and five local companies the RPC provides design and fabrication service to consortium members, performs basic and applied research for government and industry sponsors, and supports Speed School undergraduate and graduate education programs.

Additional information on the Rapid Prototyping Center’s equipment, facilities, personnel, research areas, and much more can be found online at louisville.edu/rpc

Contact via email at rpc@louisville.edu or by phone at (502) 852-7599.

Equipment and Facilities3D heart

The RPC is housed in ~11,000 sq. ft. space and is expected to expand to 15,000 to 20,000 sq. ft. by 2015 in a new building. Current unique capabilities include:

  • Laser Sintering (LS): 3D Systems/DTM SLS 2500plus, High Temperature SLS 2500 CI
  • Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS): EOS M270 Dual Mode
  • Electron Beam Melting (EBM): Arcam EBM S400 (upgraded)
  • Ultrasonic Consolidation (UC): Fabrisonic R200HP (High Power Research Platform)
  • 3D Printing (3DP): ExOne M-Lab 3D printing research platform
  • Stereolithography (SLA): 3D Systems SLA 250/30
  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM):  Stratasys uPrint, desktop “material extrusion” machines
  • Direct Write – nScrypt Direct Write head

Technical Staff

The RPC has over 20 people focused on Additive Manufacturing to support research and development programs, industrial services, and provide student instruction in the application of these new technologies. The three faculty research engineers and RPC technical staff have over 100 years of experience in AM. Other staff resources include an administrator, technicians, post-doctoral, doctoral, and graduate students. The role of technology transfer and new business development is fueled by interaction with the industrial consortium members and emphasizes the utilization of University resources to enhance job growth. Users gain access to the problem-solving technology as well as continuing research in Additive Manufacturing. Benefits also include access to UofL’s Speed School of Engineering graduates- engineers of the future with training in this state of the art technology.

Research and Services

The University of Louisville Rapid Prototyping Center (RPC) is capable of producing prototypes and end use, low volume component parts utilizing the following additive manufacturing systems: Laser Sintering (LS), Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), Electron Beam Melting (EBM), Ultrasonic Consolidation (UC), Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), and Stereolithography (SLA).

The RPC has become an industry leader in Additive Manufacturing applications with expertise and funded research in all areas of Additive Manufacturing. This includes the fundamental understanding of the effect of process variables and properties, process modeling and simulation, material development, design for AM, and testing.  AM research areas include the following:

  • Laser Sintering of Polymers: process control and optimization, mechanical properties, hardware improvements, materials research and development, high temperature materials
  • Additive Metals Processing: evaluation of process variable on mechanical properties, high performance alloys, post processing parameters eg. – annealing or heat treating
  • Additive Manufacturing Process Modeling: simulation of material transformation and solidification, prediction of grain structure and mechanical properties, analysis tools for closed loop control feedback
  • Advanced Additive Manufacturing Techniques: Multi-material and gradient structures, embedded electronics, controllable microstructures, parts consolidation, internal features, as built mechanisms
  • Testing: Mechanical and fatigue testing, physical properties, particle size characterization.

The RPC actively pursues funding opportunities focusing in the areas of material characterization and mechanical properties, dimensional control and repeatability, design opportunities/limits, and the evaluation of new materials. This includes industrial funding in applied research areas, government research grants from NSF, DARPA, NAMII, NIH, NIST, and others as well as SBIR and STTR subcontracts.

Recent Funding

The UofL’s Rapid Prototyping Center and its associated research faculty have averaged over $1.5 million in research and services over the past 10 years and currently have over $2 million in active grants. Recent highlights include:  funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), NIST, NSF, and NAMII for the development and application of the Dislocation Density based Crystal Plasticity Finite Element Model (DDCP-FEM) to predict microstructure and mechanical properties based upon thermal-mechanical AM processing for metals in Ultrasonic Consolidation (UC), and laser and electron beam based powder bed systems; Air Force Research Laboratory SBIR subcontracts for the direct part manufacturing for non-structural components and computational process model development for direct digital manufacturing; ONR STTR and SBIR subcontracts for the manufacturing of physical scale models for signature reduction and testing; and external industrial funding for high temperature laser sintering polymer development and applications.

Outreach and Community Engagement Activities

The RPC and its associated personnel and faculty are recognized as international leaders in Additive Manufacturing. They are heavily involved in growing and promoting the technology through technical organizations as officers, presenters, and featured speakers at various conferences, both nationally and internationally.In addition the RPC hosts numerous tours for high school students, local industry groups and the community at large.

For More Information

Detailed information on the Rapid Prototyping Center’s equipment, facilities, personnel, research areas, and much more can be found online at louisville.edu/rpc.

Contact via email at rpc@louisville.edu or by phone at (502) 852-7599(502) 852-7599.