College of Engineering Pune takes a Giant leap in the Additive Manufacturing space

Additive Manufacturing came into existence in 1990’s, but the technology is taking its own time to make its presence felt, if not in the mainstream market, then at least in the educational institutions. Although this technology has been around for a couple of decades now, the dearth of knowledge-sharing, and skilled personnel in this field are rare and few. There’s a dire need for specialized courses that can train the budding engineers about the basics of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology, its processes, and the Design approach needed to exploit the full potential of this technology.
AM still hasn’t cemented its place in the college curriculum. The popular trend these days is that, colleges and universities are investing heavily in the machines. But they end up with very little, or no academic projects or research work around it. Among all this, we are witnessing a major paradigm shift as College of Engineering Pune (COEP) has adopted Additive Manufacturing extensively across Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate courses.
We got an opportunity to speak to Dr. Arati Mulay, (Associate Professor) to know more about COEP’s activities in the AM space. And what we discovered was not just a one-for-the-future proposals. We experienced plethora of projects under its Production Engineering and Industrial Management Department.
1. Collaboration with Geometric Global to establish 3D Make Lab:
COEP in collaboration with GEOMETRIC Ltd. (HCL Technologies) have started a 3D make lab. 3D Make Lab is a public-access facility for 3D printing, and related technology – a “Concept to create (C2C)”. Mr. Sandesh Patil is working as the Lab manager of 3D Make Lab from July 2015. They provide rich expertise and education in these powerful new 3D tools. They enable students and companies to use their lab to build their creative concepts, research and development work. 3D Make Lab is extensively focusing on FDM technology as it is an open-ware which has a huge scope for advancement in materials, in performance and in optimizing the output. COEP started this project by procuring an open hardware machine from LulzBot (USA). 3D Make Lab has completely redeveloped the machine from scratch, and they realized that some key issues that were unaddressed in the given design. The institute has INR 1.2Cr sanctioned under this project to set up 3D Make lab for the society. With this redevelopment project, COEP is targeting:

  • Closed Chamber for controlled atmosphere and outlet for fumes generated in desktop FDM machines.
  • Developing new materials for FDM 3D printing

2. Design and Development of a post processing equipment for FDM 3D printers:
FDM 3d printers provide relatively poor surface finish. Even though the technology has high level of acceptance of new materials, poor surface finish has been a hindrance. COEP team has developed a desktop post-processing setup that uses acetone vapors to create a uniform layer of coat on the 3D printed part’s surface. This plug-and-play machine has been prototyped and has received a patent approval, already.  Tech students namely Ravikiran Shinde and Sharadchandra Bansode are working on this project.
3. Nozzle Design and development for different FDM materials:
Desktop FDM machine requires careful maintenance mostly because the nozzle gets clogged every now and then. The engineering behind the nozzle design isn’t just limited to understanding the metallurgy of the nozzle material but it also extends to the nature of material to be extruded. Mr. Sandesh Patil with Sharadchandra Bansode are working on developing a unique process for nozzle design taking into consideration the orifice diameter control, clogging rate, consistent flow, porosity, and the strength of final product, as their Masters project. The team will soon aim to commercialize the technology.
4. Laser Machining Post Processing Setup:
To ensure industrial finishing on FDM parts, COEP team is going beyond the Acetone vapor setup by incorporating “Laser” to machine an FDM printed part. Laser will essentially melt the part locally (burnishing) and create a smooth finish. Currently the team is exploring different laser options to achieve best results. The project is headed by Mr. Nikhil Kumbhar,Ph.D student, COEP.
5. Low cost 3D CAD conversion and regeneration tool:
Medical industry has a vast application of 3D printing technology. The industry is fostering at a consistent rate of 37% year-on-year. Most of the medical implant process starts with generating a CT scan data, converting it into point cloud data and finally generating a *.stl file. Mr. Vikas Chougule, Ph.D student and Dr. Arati Mulay, have successfully developed a software which can efficiently generate a *.stl file from a CT scan data. So far, the results are very promising and team has already applied for a patent. The software tends to compete directly with a leading medical modeling software which is a global leader in this industry, and also very expensive as compared to this tool. COEP team is now actively seeking industrial partners to collaborate and commercialize the product.
6. Desktop Metal 3D printing:
The project started back in 2015 with Mr. Sandesh Patil (Lab manager) and Mr. Kartik Bakshi (M.Tech Student, COEP). The objective was to develop a desktop Metal 3D printer. The first prototype was successfully developed using Fiber laser (in association with Metallurgy department, COEP). Though the fiber laser generates tremendous heat (good for process), it is also expensive. Hence the team is now developing their second prototype using CO2 laser. The entire design and fabrication are done in-house including the PCB design which is done by Mr. Rupesh Desai (M.Tech student, COEP). Although it seems that it took them years to reach this stage, the truth is that, all the initiatives started only in early 2015. COEP Industrial department, under the stewardship of Dr. B.B. Ahuja and Dr. Arati Mulay is focusing extensively on the next industrial revolution. This also helps them attract talent and makes their students industry ready for any possible employment offers in the future.
Currently, they are equipped with two industrial 3D printers from Stratasys. The machines are easily accessible to the students, and the administration charges only for the material cost. With every part printed, the students have to write a thorough report about the manufactured part. This ensures proper learning from every output from the machine. COEP is also trying to promote 3D printing across the city and has already organized a few workshops, intermittently.
We wish them all the best for their future endeavors.

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