Dr Ronán McCann completed his honours degree in Applied Physics in 2012 and graduated with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2018. His thesis, examining laser fabrication of polymer-based ultra-thin layer chromatography platforms, was completed while working in DCU’s Advanced Processing Technology (APT) Research Centre. He has experience in a wide range of fields including plasma science, vacuum technology, laser systems, material science and metrology.
In 2019, Ronán was appointed as a postdoctoral researcher at I-Form, examining the use of process monitoring tools for closed-loop system control of metal additive manufacturing (3D printing) systems. His other active areas of research include laser-material interaction and nanoparticle production via Laser Ablation Synthesis in Solution (LASiS). His work in the areas of nanotechnology and separation science has won him awards at international conferences such as 19th International ESAFORM Conference on Material Forming and 31st International Symposium on Chromatography.
Research Interests (Lay Summary)
At I-Form, Ronán examines the 3D printing of metals such as aluminium using a technique known as Selective Laser Melting (SLM). From aircraft wings to soda cans, many companies manufacture products or components from aluminium and aluminium alloys through conventional technqiues. Though there is a lot of interest in these materials, it is extremely difficult to 3D print parts from materials such as aluminium. Ronán’s project aims to overcome this problem by examining both types of aluminium alloys used in 3D printing, but also develop tools to monitor and control in real-time the 3D printing process.
Aluminium alloys have many uses in aerospace, automotive and ultra-high vacuum applications. Common challenges of SLM of aluminium include poor powder fluidity, low wettability of aluminium when in the liquid phase, high powder reflectivity, and the formation of voids and distrupted oxide layers inside parts during the 3D print process, often leading to brittle parts with poor dimensional accuracy.
Further to these challenges, there is often a small process space in which to work, thus limiting process parameter combinations to improve part quality. Our research seeks to overcome these challenges by examining the use of different alloy compositions similar to commercial standard alloys. The use of closed-loop control will also be examined on an aluminium AM process to allow higher repeatability in part quality.