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UT has rapidly become a leader in advanced manufacturing through interdisciplinary research focusing on both science and technology of manufacturing.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that a researcher working with both UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory had his work published in Nature‘s highly regarded Scientific Reports.

What makes this work different is that its author isn’t faculty, but a student—Jacob Raplee, a graduate research assistant in both mechanical engineering and business administration.

Raplee authored a report on a new way of in-situ monitoring of electron beam additive manufacturing.

That work caught the attention of both Nature and faculty like joint UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair of Advanced Manufacturing Suresh Babu, of the Tickle College of Engineering.

“This is indeed a big achievement for Jacob, for UT, and for ORNL,” said Babu. “This demonstrates to current and future students how coming to East Tennessee and working with top facilities and researchers at both institutions can really benefit you.

“If you come here, you can push the boundaries of advanced manufacturing while mastering the state of the art innovations in design for manufacturing, advanced processes, in-situ and ex-situ characterization, high performance computational modeling and supply chain.”

Raplee’s paper, “Thermographic Microstructure Monitoring in Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing,” confronts one of the common problems in manufacturing using that technique: the uncertainty surrounding the structure and strength of the manufactured material.

That uncertainty arises because of fluctuations in thermal gradients and liquid-solid interface velocity between material as it melts, which affects the accuracy of monitoring efforts.

Raplee developed a way to use infrared monitoring to bypass some of those issues, resulting in more accurate measurements and a more robust structure.

“By employing the method I proposed, we can distinguish between thermal patterns and interpret that data using known behaviors to determine a more accurate state of the material,” said Raplee.

“More testing is needed, but it’s a promising start.”

Raplee’s paper, which was produced with help from UT, the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility by collaborating with researchers from both Energy and Environmental Sciences and Materials Science and Technology directorates at ORNL, can be read at Nature.


David Goddard (865-974-0683,