ORNL develops 3D-printed composite machine base

In a recently reported project from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, carbon fiber and large-format 3D printing were used to help create a solution for machine tool outsourcing.


Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon
Oak Ridge 3D-printed composite machine tool mold

Engineers stand inside Oak Ridge National’s Laboratory’s BAAM machine next to a 3D-printed composite machine tool base mold. Source: Additive Manufacturing

Science and technology research and development center Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.) is well-known in the composites industry for its research across composites end markets, and CW has reported a number of projects (such as, most recently, these building facade molds) completed using ORNL’s Cincinnati Inc. (Harrison, Ohio, U.S.) BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing) large-format 3D printer.

According to a recent article written and reported by Brent Donaldson, senior editor at CompositesWorld’s sister publication Additive Manufacturingone of ORNL's latest innovations involved the development of a 3D-printed, carbon fiber composite mold for a concrete machine tool base, built at ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in Tennessee.

Donaldson reports that the ORNL project was part of ACE (which stands for America’s Cutting Edge), a program set up by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Defense (DOD), in part, to bring more machine tool manufacturing to the United States after years of decline due to offshoring.

The mold, printed on ORNL’s Cincinnati Inc. BAAM machine, is reported to measure 156 inches x 78 inches x 96 inches, made of 20% carbon fiber/ABS. After printing, custom rebar was lowered into the mold before it was filled with 15,000 pounds of concrete to make the end part.

In the case of this project, Donaldson reports, ORNL decided to leave the composite 3D-printed structure in place after cure, so that it served as more of a shell for the concrete part than a mold, but that it could have been removed like a traditional mold.

For the full story behind this project, read “Inside Oak Ridge’s 3D-Printed Machine Tool Moonshot”: additivemanufacturing.media/articles/inside-oak-ridges-3d-printed-machine-tool-moonshot


  • Boeing 787 Update

    Approaching rollout and first flight, the 787 relies on innovations in composite materials and processes to hit its targets

  • Recycled carbon fiber update: Closing the CFRP lifecycle loop

    Commercial production of recycled carbon fiber currently outpaces applications for it, but materials characterization and new technology demonstrations promise to close the gap.

  • The making of glass fiber

    The old art behind this industry’s first fiber reinforcement is explained,with insights into new fiber science and future developments.