A FRAMEWORK FOR OPTIMIZING PROCESS PARAMETERS IN POWDER BED FUSION (PBF) PROCESS USING ARTIFICIAL NEURAL NETWORK (ANN)
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Powder bed fusion (PBF) process is a metal additive manufacturing process, which can build parts with any complexity from a wide range of metallic materials. Research in the PBF process predominantly focuses on the impact of a few parameters on the ultimate properties of the printed part. The lack of a systematic approach to optimizing the process parameters for a better performance of given material results in a sub-optimal process limiting the potentialof the application. This process needs a comprehensive study of all the influential parameters and their impact on the mechanical and microstructural properties of a fabricated part. Furthermore, there is a need to develop a quantitative system for mapping the material properties and process parameters with the ultimate quality of the fabricated part to achieve improvement in the manufacturing cycle as well as the quality of the final part produced by the PBF process. To address the aforementioned challenges, this research proposes a framework to optimize the process for 316L stainless steel material. This framework characterizes the influence of process parameters on the microstructure and mechanical properties of the fabricated part using a series of experiments. These experiments study the significance of process parameters and their variance as well as study the microstructure and mechanical properties of fabricated parts by conducting tensile, impact, hardness, surface roughness, and densification tests, and ultimately obtain the optimum range of parameters. This would result in a more complete understanding of the correlation between process parameters and part quality. Furthermore, the data acquired from the experimentsare employed to develop an intelligent parameter suggestion multi-layer feedforward (FF) backpropagation (BP) artificial neural network (ANN). This network estimates the fabrication time and suggests the parameter setting accordingly to the user/manufacturers desired characteristics of the end-product. Further, research is in progress to evaluate the framework for assemblies and complex part designs and incorporate the results in the network for achieving process repeatability and consistency.