A multi-faceted explorative study was carried out on electrochemical additive manufacturing, a viable candidate as a nontraditional commercial additive manufacturing process. First, a feasibility study was carried out on the process to show that the process can work experimentally to create various geometries using a current feedback system. Second, a finite element simulation study was carried out on the effect of variation of process parameters and changing boundary conditions during the deposition process on the output geometry was observed. Next, a case study of support structure-less, voxel-by-voxel electrochemical deposition of a 3D part was introduced. This method allows for the creation of overhanging parts without reliance on support structures, which are difficult if not impossible to remove. Then, preliminary work was done to test the cloud-based application of an in-house micro metal additive manufacturing by electrochemical deposition process. Additive manufacturing, being a computer-based system that can save point-by-point data of parts to be manufactured, can be easily integrated into the cloud. Finally, the effects of the deposition parameters on the residual stress of output parts were investigated.
In the feasibility study, it was seen that mostly-vertical parts can be deposited, but more complex geometries with horizontal layers remain a challenge. In the finite element simulation, trends were found between specific process parameters and output geometries in the simulations; trends varied between linear and nonlinear, and certain process parameters such as voltage and interelectrode gap were found to have a greater influence on the output than others. The simulations were able to predict the output width of deposition of experiments in an error of 8-30%. Next, standard values and procedures were established in order to create design rules for the electrochemical deposition process. The voxel size, tool clearance values, raster path generation, approach and retract paths, and part segmentation rules were established.
The algorithm was then executed on a sample part and successful performance was verified. Then, the system was linked to commercial cloud and email access for constant real-time communication from any user with a phone, tablet, or personal computer. The process could be started, stopped, altered, and queried remotely via the cloud. Input parameters were specified and plots of output performance, time, and current information were communicated back to the user on-demand, as well as stored on the cloud long-term. The cloud could then link input parameters to the history of system performance on such input parameters in a cloud-stored database. An experiment was executed to optimize horizontal deposition parameters based on deposition resolution, and save these values into the cloud for future use. Finally, there were trends seen in the tensile and compressive output stresses corresponding to the input voltage, pulse period, and duty cycle. Overall, the information gained from this research allows for greater understanding of electrochemical additive manufacturing output and its enormous potential as a commercial additive manufacturing process of complex 3D parts. This lays the foundation for future commercial adoption of this manufacturing process.