Florida Poly professor receives NSF CAREER award to study revolutionary low-cost metal 3D printing process

Apr 11, 2024
Sanna Siddiqui

Dr. Sanna Siddiqui, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Florida Polytechnic University, has been awarded a prestigious $536,110 CAREER award by the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Sanna Siddiqui, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Florida Polytechnic University, has been awarded a prestigious CAREER award of $536,110 by the National Science Foundation.

The five-year award is part of the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development Program. Siddiqui is researching the fatigue performance and failure of metal parts that are manufactured through a low-cost form of metal 3D printing, referred to as material extrusion additive manufacturing (MEAM).

“This award is a dream come true,” Siddiqui said. “It will allow me to continue to make a profound impact in both education and research.”

The funded research will study whether a nickel-based metal superalloy used in aerospace and energy propulsion structural components, when manufactured through this inexpensive metal 3D printing process, can perform as well as their much more expensive existing counterparts.

“The typical metal 3D printing processes used to manufacture structural components are very expensive in terms of manufacturing to implementation,” she said. “The research focus of this CAREER grant is to assess whether this low-cost metal additive manufacturing process can yield structural components that meet necessary mechanical performance requirements, subject to fatigue cyclic loading conditions.”

The educational enhancement focus of the CAREER grant intends to inspire undergraduate to graduate educational transition through Florida Poly’s 4+1 accelerated B.S. to M.S. program, establish a research forum, and incorporate research findings in the educational curriculum and outreach activities with the idea that the low-cost metal additive manufacturing process can essentially become a commodity from which all can benefit, Siddiqui added.

The research will assess whether the MEAM process could potentially allow the same durable parts to be created using hollow plastic filament filled with metal powder. It would be used to print metal parts with an off-the-shelf 3D printer, which is much less expensive. High temperature exposure dissolves the plastic materials, leaving behind a solid metal piece.

Siddiqui said the challenge with the material extrusion additive manufacturing process today is the presence of manufacturing defects like shrinkage and porosity, which contribute to premature component failure.

“The intent is to assess how to manufacture structural components through this low-cost metal 3D printing process, and improve their quality through post-processing techniques, in an effort to limit these manufacturing defects and meet basic mechanical performance requirements,” she said. “If mechanical performance requirements can be met, at least between those structural components that are manufactured from this low-cost printer compared with very expensive metal 3D printers, it will really be a big win, and could pave the way for the next generation in low-cost additive manufacturing.

Siddiqui previously received an approximately $150,000 NSF grant to study microstructural defects occurring in nickel-based metal superalloy materials used in jet and rocket engines, when manufactured through the current more expensive metal 3D printing technology, laser powder bed fusion (LPBF).  

“The NSF CAREER award grant is highly sought after by many young faculty across the nation and receiving a career award is an honor for the individual and the host institution,” said Dr. Terry Parker, Florida Poly’s provost. “I am extraordinarily excited that Dr. Siddiqui is Florida Poly’s first recipient of this award, and I am certain she will use the award to advance the state of the art while providing a great research experience for the students she works with.”  


Lydia Guzmán
Director of Communications