ORNL’s Co-development and Licensing of Large Additive Area Manufacturing Technologies

Award Year 

The Large Area Additive Manufacturing (LAAM) system co-developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Cincinnati, Incorporated (CI), with contributions by Strangpresse, LLC, is a radically new large-scale platform for additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) of polymer and composite structures. Now marketed by CI as the BAAM-CI system (for Big Area Additive Manufacturing), the system’s technologies are also licensable by other industry players. The LAAM system enables components of arbitrary geometry to (more) be 3D-printed at a scale 10 times larger than other commercially available systems, and can deposit material more than 500 times faster than the previous state of the art. In addition, its introduction to the market has drastically reduced the price of 3D printing on a large scale, from approximately $100 per pound before these efforts to about $1 per pound today. It is the first system to deposit with carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic pellets, which can double the strength of 3D-printed components and increase their stiffness by a factor of 4–7. In short, the LAAM system co-developed by ORNL and its partners enables 3D printing of large structures much faster and cheaper than ever before, and with stronger results. The co-developed system was made possible by Cooperative Research and Development Agreements with both partners. ORNL contributed a large body of intellectual property that extended small-scale 3D printing capabilities to large-scale formats. Strangpresse optimized and tested new extruders as well as new carbon-based fiber depositing materials. CI provided the large gantry systems to house the technologies and optimize them for long-term, robust use. The LAAM system and component technologies have not only resulted in a market-friendly nonexclusive licensing structure (with CI and Strangpresse being among the first licensees), but they also spurred competition and innovation, giving birth to a new industry and new era of large-scale 3D printing. A significant turning point in the industry was seen in 2014, when the partners (along with Local Motors) successfully produced the world’s first 3D printed car in a mere 48 hours at the International Manufacturing Technology Showcase. They printed a second car in just 24 hours the next year at the North American International Auto Show, attended by then-President Obama and Vice President Biden, ushering in a new era of investment in large-scale 3D printing. These activities have encouraged a new and growing community of startups and business expansions, resulting in new jobs, economic development, and other large-scale 3D printing systems brought to market. Contact: Dr. Lonnie Love, (865) 946-3161, (less)