Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in collaboration with numerous partners in industry, government, and academia, have produced the first fully functional excavator using additively manufactured components. Known as Project AME, this working demonstration showcases a wide range of industrial applications for 3D printing.
By utilizing different 3D printing platforms, materials, and processes, researchers were able to show the seamless integration of parts working together on one excavator. The cab where the operator sits, the large hydraulically articulated arm, and the heat exchanger were all printed at the Department of Energy's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In addition, researchers worked with student designers from the University of Illinois, the University of Minnesota, and Georgia Tech to create novel designs for the cab, stick, and heat exchanger.
3D Printed Components
The 7-foot-long, 400 lb stick was printed entirely of low-cost steel on the Wolf Robotics Wolf Pack printer in only 5 days. This is the first application of large-scale metals additive manufacturing at ORNL.
Using the Cincinnati Incorporated Big Area Additive Manufacturing system, the cab was printed in only 5 hours with carbon fiber reinforced ABS plastic.
The 13 lb aluminum heat exchanger was 3D printed entirely on the Concept Laser X-line 1000 powder bed machine.
“We’re thrilled to bring such a significant technological and first-of-its-kind achievement like the 3D printed excavator to IFPE and CONEXPO-CON/AGG; it will be a platform to demonstrate how the latest innovations and applied technologies are changing the future of the construction industry.” — John Rozum, IFPE show director
Project AME Student Design Contest
Student engineering teams from across the country submitted their designs for a futuristic excavator cab. A panel of industry experts judged the competition and picked the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign as the winners. As part of their award, the students traveled to ORNL to observe the printing of their design and participated in the unveiling at ConExpo/ ConAGG 2017