Additive Manufacturing

What we do

The Additive Manufacturing Research Group at Iowa Technology Institute focuses on studying how material-forming processes existing in nature can be used to enable next-generation additive manufacturing (AM) technologies.

Our current research topics include: 

  • Next-generation AM technology development. We learn from nature to develop next-generation AM technologies, which are multi-material, multi-scale, ultra-fast, energy efficient, etc. 

  • AM process modeling, quality control, and optimization. We use experimental and theoretical techniques to advance the understanding of the fundamental physics behind nature-inspired AM processes and achieve performance-driven process control. 

  • Novel applications of new AM technologies. We use the unique capabilities of our AM technologies to create game-changing devices for various applications, such as tissue engineering, sensing, energy harvesting, and robotics. 

During the past thirty years, the design and manufacturing community has benefited from AM, thanks to several of its advantages, including the capability of fabricating components with complex geometry. However, AM technologies also have critical issues such as poor surface finish, low resolution, insufficient material properties, and limited material selection. These disadvantages prevent wider application of AM in industries such as aerospace, defense, automobile, optics, electronics, biomedical, and energy. 

Since its establishment in 2016, our group has invented and created several novel AM technologies to overcome the aforementioned problems. These include a multi-scale and multi-material AM process, a support-free ceramic fabrication approach, a low-cost layerless direct metal drawing process, and an ultra-low-temperature ceramic fabrication technique. These new AM technologies have the capability of processing a variety of materials, including polymers, ceramics, metals, and composites, into structures of arbitrary complexity, spanning multiple length scales, from several micrometers to several centimeters. More importantly, the cost and energy consumption in these new methods are dramatically reduced as well. 

Explore some of our projects

  • Developed a novel prototype system to 3D print piezoelectric ceramic devices by integrating tape-casting and stereolithography techniques.
  • Used 3D printing process to fabricate microstructures with high dielectric polymer/ceramic composite materials.
  • Developed a multi-scale stereolithography system, whose smallest feature could be as small as 5 µm, and building size could be as big as 50 mm.

Click here to learn more about our projects.


Dr. Xuan Song

(319) 335-5680

Lab: AMPRL (Additive Manufacturing-Integrated Product Realization Laboratory)