Beese awarded for additive manufacturing research, mentoring

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Allison Beese, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, recently earned the International Outstanding Young Researcher in Freeform and Additive Manufacturing Award for research accomplishments related to additive manufacturing of metallic materials.

The award is given to researchers under age 35 who show potential for a successful career in the field while being a positive role model for others.

Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, is the process of building objects by adding layer upon layer of materials, using heat to fuse the materials as you go. Metallic components are traditionally machined from solid pieces of metal, which creates strong parts with predictable properties, but results in limitations in designed geometry and waste of material.

“In additive manufacturing you locally melt the metals, which then rapidly solidify,” Beese said. “Every time you add another layer, the material is heated up and cooled again, which results in a complex thermal history. Even though the material is compositionally the same as something that’s long been used in manufacturing, you’re subjecting it to a really different processing history than what the material is designed for. We need to understand what these extreme processing conditions do to the material.”

Beese’s research focuses on characterizing and understanding the properties of objects formed using 3-D printing. This will help manufacturers produce reliable parts with predictable properties.

Beese’s group looks at how the microstructure of the object changes in relation to its thermal history and how to link that relationship to the material’s mechanical properties.

“The goal is to be able to build components, know their thermal history as a function of location, and then predict the resulting properties,” Beese said.

Susan Sinnott, professor and head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said Beese has made impactful contributions related to additive manufacturing, including contributing to the advanced understanding of processing, structure and property relationships formed during additive manufacturing.

“This research has been published in 14 papers since Beese joined Penn State in 2013, including high-impact journals such as Acta Materialia,” Sinnott said. “Beese has also secured government funding for research, including two grants from the National Science Foundation focused on additive manufacturing.”

Beese’s expertise is in structural applications, where objects need to be predictably strong. It’s an area of manufacturing where 3-D printing could play a big role if the science behind the process solidifies.

Applications for the technology include aerospace and customized biomedical implants, as well as the replacement of legacy components for the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Defense.

“One promising area for additive manufacturing is in custom implants. Additive manufacturing could be used to create a hip or a knee implant that was designed for the specific patient,” Beese said. “You could scan their body to see what shape the part needs to take, and then design and build the implant tailored for that particular person.”

Her push to mentor undergraduate and graduate students while increasing diversity in materials science is another reason Beese was honored. In her research group, half the students are women. She also participates in the WISER (Women in Science and Engineering Research) program, which provides first-year women students at University Park with research opportunities and mentoring.

“One of the really positive parts of this job is that you get to interact with and mentor students, guiding them through graduate school and preparing them for their professional careers,” Beese said. “I enjoy exposing them to research problems, and helping them become independent researchers so that once they’ve finished graduate school, they can go off and be successful in academia, national labs, industry, or whatever path they choose.”

Beese presented a keynote lecture and received the award at the Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium, which was held Aug. 7-9 in Austin, Texas.

The award, which consists of a certificate, trophy and monetary award, is sponsored by the Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium under the aegis of the Advanced Manufacturing Center of the University of Texas at Austin. Other recent honors for Beese include the 2015 TMS Young Leader Professional Development Award, 2016 ORAU Ralph E. Powe Jr. Faculty Enhancement Award, and a 2016 3M Nontenured Faculty Award. Earlier this year, Beese earned a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation, which provides five years of financial support for research totaling $500,000.

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Last Updated August 17, 2017