$500K in Air Force Funding Open for 3D Printing Projects with America Makes


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At the end of June, America Makes, driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) and focused on AM technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation, announced a request for topics for its next Rapid Innovation Call (RIC), with the intent of officially launching the RIC and announcing the topics in early August. Now, the organization has made good on its promise—at its annual Technical Review and Exchange (TRX) event, America Makes announced a new RIC for projects worth $500,000 in funding from the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division.

The RIC project model gives America Makes a framework to adapt and pivot to changing supply chain challenges, due to direct input from its members and/or government stakeholders. The funding for this RIC is focused on further maturing AM technologies.

“Today’s RIC announcement is incredibly exciting as it represents a concerted effort by our membership community at all levels—from members to our Roadmap Advisory Group and our Executive Committee—to strategically prioritize our investment in the RIC technical topics to what will best benefit our industry the most next. The America Makes membership community is truly working together to drive the direction we take to mature and advance AM technologies,” stated Brandon D. Ribic, PhD, America Makes Technology Director. “We anticipate the outcomes of this RIC to make a significant impact in addressing critical areas of need.”

In this RIC, membership needs in six different topic areas will be investigated and addressed, the first of which is “Understanding Build Interruptions via AM Monitoring Methods.” With this topic, the focus will be on better understanding and quantifying processing conditions when there are different interruptions to the processes. Participants will be charged with using in-situ monitoring methods to learn more about these build interruptions.

The second topic, “AM Part Families for Production Qualification & Certification (Q&C),” requires a minimum cost share of 25% while working to increase AM adoption in industries that really need Q&C of 3D printed parts, like medical, aviation, and aerospace. Participants will work to create AM part families, using current data, in order to boost how much validated AM data is available in the public domain, as well as create Q&C standards. “Defect Detection and Mitigation via Hybrid AM,” the third topic, is focused on apply hybrid AM approaches to help fix AM product and material defects, and ultimately develop solid methods to reduce the amount of defects that form during printing.

In “Characterization of Transient Phenomena Impacting In-situ Molten Pool Temperature Measurement for AM of Reactive Metals,” the fourth topic, will be looking to improve the measurement of in-situ molten pool temperature for 3D printing reactive metals, making the process more reliable and accurate in order to connect material microstructure and processing parameters. The penultimate topic, “Advancing Lightweight Design for AM of Thin Walls and Struts,” is about supporting more lightweight design methods of 3D printed thin walls and struts by making it easier to process and manufacture these types of structures in order to speed up their adoption in the medical, energy, automotive, and aerospace industries.

Finally, the sixth and final topic is “Internet of Things (IoT) Technologies to Enhance AM Product Performance,” with a goal of using IoT technologies on digital data that’s been extracted from AM processes in order to best benefit said processes, and quantify and improve the performance of 3D printed products.

All participants must be members of America Makes, and at least five awards will likely be given with an associated maximum federal funding of $100,000. As you can see in the detailed RIC schedule above, the submission deadline for a team’s full project proposal, outlined in the RFP, is before 5 pm EST September 2nd, 2021. The anticipated announcement of the awards is September 20th, 2021. For more information on this RIC, visit the America Makes website.

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