3Degrees to Develop 3D Printing Materials Database for America Makes


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3Degrees is a 3D printing consultancy that enables businesses to adopt the technology by applying its industry insights and materials expertise. With its TRACEam Process streamlining project management and documentation at all stages of the 3D printing workflow, the Chicago, Illinois-based firm has emerged as a unique player in 3D printing adoption. Now, the six-year old company has received a grant from America MakesRapid Innovation Call (RIC) program and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to develop a best-in-class materials database for additive manufacturing (AM).

3Degrees helps companies offset emissions. Image courtesy of 3Degrees.

America Makes had recently announced that 3Degrees, along with four other awardees, were the recipients of two RICs worth $285,000 in funding from the AFRL’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, plus $85,500 in matching funds from awarded project teams for total funding worth $370,500. The RICs seek to optimize materials data to foster analytics and advance AM qualification and certification. America Makes Technology Director Brandon Ribic indicated that the new RIC process elicited an overwhelming level of response and support from America Makes membership community, with impactful and well-thought-out proposals to address critical needs in the supply chain.

3Degrees was selected as one of the awardees in the “Searchable AM Materials Database” category. As such, the project team received $50,000 in AFRL funding, and $42,500 in cost-share, for total funding of $92.500. The company will lead the proposal in collaboration with AM analytics experts at Senvol, aerospace manufacturer Northrop Grumman, AM solution provider EOS, and consulting firm Deloitte.

Together, they will develop a searchable and scalable database built using 3Degrees’ proprietary TRACEam software. Specifically designed to collate 3D printing data according to the workflows of the 3D printing process, the TRACEam software provides a comprehensive materials data management system for key production and AM technical data to improve data management and analytics of America Makes projects.

The project team brings together materials engineers, data specialists, and consultants who will work together to customize the TRACEam platform to fit the unique needs of America Makes’ members. Specifically, they will deliver a robust system to collect and archive data, which will allow past and future projects to be sorted by key production and technical data. The tool aligns with industry best practices and regulatory data requirements and has the benefit of enabling real-time updates to the information captured by the industry as standards evolve.

3Degrees TRACEam software. Image courtesy of 3Degrees.

Overall, the database is set to revolutionize America Makes’ data management and analytics capabilities and further cement its role as one of the best hubs for advanced AM research and technologies. Founder of 3Degrees and principal investigator for the project, Mike Vasquez, highlighted that through this work, they will be able to deliver a tool that is simple to work with and enables users to search, analyze and compare robust data very easily and quickly. The AM materials expert said he believes the new tool will produce insights that “support manufacturing in the United States” and “benefit all 228 current and future America Makes members.”

According to Vasquez, due to its unique role within the 3D printing ecosystem, America Makes possesses an “unparalleled amount of data” around materials performance, printing platforms, and technical specifications. The Youngstown, Ohio-based national AM innovation institute has been focused on accelerating the adoption of 3D printing technology since 2012. It helps its membership community of more than 180 organizations develop the standards, tools, education, and research required to accomplish this goal. In that process, the organization has become a trailblazing and successful example of the public-private partnership and collaborative model, fostering a highly synergetic infrastructure for the open exchange of 3D printing information and research.

Members of America Makes and the broader 3D printing community will be able to follow the project’s progress throughout 2021, including at upcoming member events such as America Makes’ Technical Review Exchange (TRX) on August 3, 2021, and its Member Meeting Exchange set for October. The project team will also appear on the 3Degrees Discussions podcast towards the end of the project to discuss key learnings, existing challenges within the additive manufacturing space, and what they see as the next opportunity to advance the AM industry. America Makes members and government stakeholders are also encouraged to submit topics for future RICs, and as funding becomes available, the organization will announce additional projects.

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