Ohio-based America Makes, which this summer celebrated five years of being the national accelerator for additive manufacturing in the US, is managed and operated by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), which is the driving force behind the Youngstown institute’s latest Project Call for Phase 3 of its Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-Cost Sustainment (MAMLS) program. Together with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division, which funds the program, America Makes is targeting to make roughly $5.7 million available in order to fund several awards.
Rob Gorham, America Makes Executive Director, said, “Today’s Project Call announcement marks a significant milestone for delivering additive manufacturing technology demonstrations and solutions that can elevate the entire sustainment community’s understanding and use of additive manufacturing. Phase 3 of MAMLS will improve rapid part replacement/maintenance for legacy aircraft, enable on-demand replacement of critically damaged or obsolete components, and reduce the cost and lead time to fabricate replacement components. This is an effort with the potential to resolve the existing challenges that are hindrances to maintaining the strategic readiness of the Air Force, as well as the entire military, today and well into the future.”
AFRL and America Makes hope to receive at least $2.8 million in matching funds from the winning project teams, which will combine with their own funding to make a total project call of about $8.5 million. This puts America Makes’ portfolio of public and private funds for advancing the country’s additive manufacturing technology at over $114.5 million.
MAMLS is crucial to US Air Force strategic readiness – the goal of the program is to improve efficiency for rapid aircraft part replacement. This particular Project Call will center around several of the main challenges, identified in the program’s first two phases, in terms of integrating additive manufacturing technology within the Department of Defense (DoD) for operations such as logistics, maintenance, and sustainment.
At 1 pm this Friday, December 1st, America Makes will hold a Project Call Kick-off Webinar, followed by a brief Q&A session; you can register for the webinar here.
America Makes has shared some information about this Project Call ahead of the webinar, including eligibility standards – while a team may be partially comprised of non-members, a lead project proposer must be a member of America Makes by February 9th, 2018 – and the fact that it covers three technical topic areas.
After solidification occurs in current casting and welding processes, there aren’t a lot of chances to eliminate discontinuities, whether they’re physical, microstructural, or compositional, which means that completed product forms need to undergo design and manufacturing process changes because they have a higher variability. The goal of this first topic, ‘Feature-based Qualification (FBQ) using Directed Energy Deposition (DED),’ is to apply FBQ to large-scale, 3D printed production of aerospace components made using DED techniques, in order show how useful FBQ is, as well as determine any challenges or risks associated with its implementation.
FBQ approaches work by identifying and developing a catalog consisting of relevant combinations of AM process parameters that have “simplified specimen geometries.”Then, the catalog is put through material and process qualification testing in order to identify qualified parts by, according to the Project Call, “decomposing the parts into the relevant constituent features and producing each feature in a manner compliant with the catalog specification.”
The goal of the second topic area, ‘Understand Manufacturing Realities of AM,’ is pretty straightforward – determine what effect any defects have on 3D printed materials’ mechanical performance. While 3D printing is often praised for wasting less material than subtractive technologies, the process still does scrap material at times, for reasons like print job interruption, un-removed powder or powder contamination, volumetric flaws like distributed porosity, or a rough finish on surfaces that face down. Through this second Project Call topic, America Makes and the AFRL hope to better characterize these flaws and their performance influence, as well as using post-processing methods to fix them.
More and more, we’re seeing additive manufacturing technology implemented across the DoD as the institute takes note of 3D printing, and it’s funding a lot of research as well. We often hear about the possibilities of lowering lead time and cost, while improving mission capability, with direct 3D printed part replacement for mission-critical components, but what you may not be aware of are the other possible applications for additive manufacturing in defense areas of lower criticality that could potentially “impact the operation of legacy systems.”
That’s why the third topic of the Project Call is ‘Emerging Process Technology for Low Criticality Part Families,’ in order to evaluate new, lower-cost AM technologies and see if they can be used to successfully manufacture non-critical components, like manifolds, wiring harnesses, small brackets, electrical connectors, and instrumentation knobs.
Proposals up to $5.7 million will be considered for this Project Call, and the electronic Project Concept Form, which summarizes a team’s technology transition requirements and technical approach, is due by 5 pm EST on January 3rd, 2018; all submissions will be acknowledged by NCDMM in an email.
After reviewing the forms, America Makes will convene a down-select process, and the project teams that pass will move on to the final step of the full proposal. Teams must submit their full proposals to America Makes by February 23rd, 2018, with the award announcement taking place no later than April of 2018; the anticipated project start date is June of 2018.
For more details, visit the Project Call page.
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