Direct digital manufacturing (DDM) is the industrial front of 3D Printing (3DP), recently described by The Economist in its 21 April 2012 issue as the Third Industrial Revolution. Beyond the hype for the personal 3DP revolution mostly based on a suite of plastic materials, the true potential for 3DP that DDM Systems pioneers is for high-end, high-value industrial additive manufacturing applications from advanced casting to 3D designs using next generation polymers, ceramics, and metals.
DDM Systems is at the forefront of innovation and process optimization for unique additive manufacturing platforms with high-value industrial applications. The company's name derives from the Direct Digital Manufacturing Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology where the company's core technologies were conceived, invented and developed by a team of researchers led by Suman Das with sponsored research funding from the US Department of Defense.
The company was founded in 2012 by Suman Das and John Halloran, Co-Principal Investigators for a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-funded Disruptive Manufacturing Technology (DMT) project that began in 2007. This collaboration culminated in the invention and optimization of Large Area Maskless Photopolymerization (LAMP™) — a breakthrough 3DP technology for the tool-less, on-demand and affordable direct digital manufacturing (DDM) of ceramic cores and molds for investment casting of high-precision, high-performance turbine engine hot-section components such as airfoils.
With Office of Naval Research funding between 2007 and 2012, Suman Das’ Georgia Institute of Technology Laboratories also invented Scanning Laser Epitaxy (SLE™). This technology platform achieves controlled epitaxial deposition in equiaxed, directionally-solidified and single-crystal nickel-based superalloys to repair damaged airfoils and other high-value turbine engine hot-section components and to prototype and test new component designs previously considered non-manufacturable. SLE™ platforms developed by DDM Systems surpass existing weld repair techniques and more precisely deposit metallurgically superior or identical superalloy compositions and microstructures, including single-crystals, to restore hot-section components such as airfoils, vanes and shrouds without additional processing or extensive retooling and at a fraction of the cost.
Pre-commercialization funding to support DDM Systems' incubation was provided by VentureLab — a Georgia Institute of Technology business incubator, ranked #2 University Business Incubator in the world for 2013.