We talk about the Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies (ADAPT) a lot here at 3DPrint.com. Together with the University of Utah, the Colorado-based research consortium, which has welcomed new members Big Metal Additive and Spatial in the last few months and was recently honored for its achievement in economic development, received government funding from the US Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment to help with the initial phase of the Mountain West Advanced Manufacturer’s Network (MWAMN).

The Office of Economic Adjustment Funds (OEA) is providing roughly $2.7 million in funding, and about $1.5 million of that will go to ADAPT and the Colorado School of Mines, where the R&D organization is located. ADAPT works to develop technologies that will speed up the certification and qualification of 3D printed metal parts; the new MWAMN leverages the consortium’s existing data infrastructure, which was developed with help from an International Trade Advanced Industries Accelerator grant and funds from the State of Colorado Office of Economic Development and other founding member companies. The test case will integrate contractors, OEMs, R&D, and subs to “efficiently employ AM processes, expand markets and increase resiliency.”

ADAPT Technical Director Aaron Stebner explained, “This program creates a new manufacturing platform to advance economic and workforce resilience in response to changes in defense spending. Enabling manufacturers to efficiently deploy additive manufacturing processes helps diversify their product offerings, expand into non-defense markets, and provide resilient employment and value to their communities and the economy independent of defense spending.”

ADAPT works to create advanced characterization technologies and next-generation data informatics for AM technologies, in order to help both industry and government with AM processes and parts. The organization’s data infrastructure will help MWAMN innovate and accelerate new products and existing product development, and inform product and material change-overs, while also improving upon the ability to respond to requirements from the DoD and working to lower the reliance on the defense industry as a whole. As some of ADAPT’s founding members include defense organizations like Lockheed Martin and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., it seems like MWAMN is on the right track with this goal.

“Additive manufacturing holds the promise of enabling manufacturers to quickly adapt to changing market needs compared to traditional manufacturing methods. Today, building new parts or switching materials with this technology takes too long. MWAMN is focused on radically shortening that time, lowering costs, and reducing the negative economic impact on companies and communities when defense programs and spending changes,” said Heidi Hostetter, ADAPT industry board chair.

An armed forces branch came to ADAPT to reverse engineer these parts, saving them time and money [Image: ADAPT via Facebook]

Other MWAMN members include Citrine Informatics, the MEP Center at the University of Utah, Manufacturer’s Edge, Carnegie Mellon’s NextManufacturing Center, and the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership organizations from both Utah and Colorado.

Using a centralized, AI database, the members will network past, present, and future defense-supported metals manufacturers together with advanced manufacturing R&D centers. The platform will allow defense manufacturing contractors to expand product mix, make product development cycles shorter, and enter new non-defense markets, all by using additive manufacturing processes. This will increase the economic diversity, workforce resilience, and economic benefits of the contractors’ businesses. Discuss in the ADAPT forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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