Auburn leads statewide NASA project on simulation-based qualification for additive manufacturing

Published: Dec 15, 2021 11:00 AM

By Jeremy Henderson

Auburn's reputation for additive manufacturing (AM) research has again preceded itself. 

A team of faculty from Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and Harbert College of Business, composed mostly of leadership and affiliated faculty within Auburn University's National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence (NCAME), received $750,000 in funding for their winning NASA EPSCoR — Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research — project proposal to investigate the structural integrity of additively manufactured (AM) metallic materials. The team also includes researchers from the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa and University of Alabama-Huntsville.

Titled "Synergistic Effects of Defects and Microstructure on Mechanical Behavior of LB-LBF Metallic Materials," the three-year project aims to combine state-of-the-art numerical modeling and experimentation to address part and material qualification, the main hindrance of adopting additively manufactured materials in flight critical applications.

"There is a lack of quantitative knowledge regarding the harmful effects of AM anomalies on structural integrity," said project scientific lead Shuai Shao, associate professor of mechanical engineering. "In essence, this project integrates experiments and simulations to understand how defects — AM processes are prone to induce them — affect AM metal parts’ mechanical properties. It lays a foundation for simulation-based qualification for additively manufactured materials and components. 

The proposal was selected after three rounds of competition — at the university, state and national levels. 

"The NASA EPSCoR program is highly competitive, so I think I can speak for all of my team members by saying that it's very rewarding to be selected," Shao said.  

In addition to Shao, Auburn Engineering investigators on the project are NCAME director Nima Shamsaei, the Philpott-WestPoint Stevens Distinguished Professor of mechanical engineering; Jeff Suhling, the Quina Professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering; and Hareesh Tippur, the McWane Endowed Chair Professor in mechanical engineering. LaKami Baker, associate professor in the Auburn University Harbert College of Business, will lead entrepreneurship and outreach activities. 

Auburn engineers have extensive experience in AM materials characterization. In 2020, using a $3 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, NCAME initiated a similar two-year project focused on the fatigue and fracture properties of AM metallic materials. In both studies, the ultimate goal is to advance AM adoption in commercial airline construction. 

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591

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