From a press conference held at Youngstown State University (YSU), America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, announced a new Directed Project Opportunity to improve US Air Force sustainment operations. The goal of the program is to improve the efficiency of Air Force Air Logistics Complexes to rapidly replace parts for legacy and other military aircraft by developing, demonstrating and guiding the transition to the use of additive manufacturing and other types of related advanced manufacturing technology. The Directed Project Opportunity is being funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division.
The University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) will be the principal investigator on the project, while YSU will be the co-leader of the technical efforts. Not only will the project have a significant impact on both universities, but it will also benefit Northeast Ohio, where more than half of the 25 project team partners are located. Driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), America Makes will be awarding $8 million in AFRL funding from their new Cooperative Agreement with the AFRL. An additional $2.87 million in matching costs will be contributed by the award project team for total of $10.87 million in funding for the research project. UDRI and YSU will share the funding equally throughout the entirety of the project.
“On behalf of all of us at America Makes, we congratulate UDRI, YSU, and their team on the Directed Project Opportunity Award. This project is significant on a number of levels. It marks the first funded project under our new, five-year Cooperative Agreement with AFRL. It is also an important area of research not only for the Air Force, but for the entire military and manufacturing community as well. Lastly, the impact of this project on the Northeast Ohio region with the strong showing from Ohio-based companies is tremendous, underscoring the manufacturing innovation coming out of the Youngstown and Mahoning Valley region. We are very excited to get this effort underway,” said the Director of Operations at America Makes, Rob Gorham.
UDRI was notified that they would be awarded the funding at an America Makes members-only event that was held back in April on the University of Dayton campus. In attendance was the entire project team, as well as America Makes personnel and several Air Force officials. The UDRI-led project team will be comprised of several Ohio-based organizations, including YSU, Bastech Inc., Case Western Reserve University, Deloitte Services, DRT Mfg. Co., GE Aviation, Humtown Products, M-7 Technologies, Slice Manufacturing Studios, and the Youngstown Business Incubator. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), the AFRL out of Dayton and the 910th Airlift Wing from Youngstown will also be working with the project.
The UDRI and YSU teams will work on the project directly with Air Force officials from three of its Air Logistics Complexes. In addition to Robins Air Force Base (AFB) in Georgia, Hill AFB in Utah, and Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, the team will also be coordinating with several other Air Force and Department of Defense bases and depots. The project will also be supported by several additive manufacturing industry leaders, including 3D Systems Corporation, American Foundry Society, Boeing Company, Honeywell International Inc., Lockheed Martin, the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, Optomec, Pennsylvania State University, Raytheon, and the University of Northern Iowa.
“This Directed Project Opportunity represents the largest additive manufacturing focused effort on sustainment, maintenance, and repair technologies ever organized to date. Maintaining its fleet in a cost-efficient manner using advanced manufacturing technologies, including additive manufacturing, is critical to the strategic readiness of the Air Force today and into the future. Through its outlined approach combined with the diverse project team assembled and led by UDRI, a research leader in its own right, the Institute is highly optimistic that the resulting outcome will successfully address the Air Force’s sustainment needs and possibly extend beyond the Air Force to other military branches,” explained the Deputy Director of Technology Development at America Makes, John Wilczynski.
The Air Force is currently dealing with several challenges related to the sustainment of its fleet of aircraft and aircraft support vehicles and machinery. This project will focus on additive manufacturing and related advanced manufacturing technologies like reverse engineering tools, 3D scanners, CAD software and non-destructive evaluation (NDE) systems. The project will examine how an additive manufacturing-based approach to sustainment can benefit the Air Force and impact their ongoing challenges. Discuss further in the Air Force & 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.