Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Project Call to Advance 3D Printed Components for Aerospace and Defense Applications


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America Makes members are invited to apply to a new research project entitled “Maturation of Additive Geometric Management Approaches for High Mach Applications,” or MAGMA. Funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), this project will focus on advancing US additive manufacturing (AM) capabilities to create components for aerospace and defense high Mach applications that are prone to distortion or could fail to meet geometric design requirements.

Worth $1 million in federal funding, the project call seeks responses that develop and demonstrate model-based approaches to advance the domestic supply chain’s ability to mitigate various factors that result in unacceptable variances in final AM product geometry for high Mach applications. Proposals should aim for applications that will improve geometries, thermal management, and the producibility of AM components.

MAGMA sponsoring organizations—AFRL’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing, and Industrial Base Technology Division, and the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM)—anticipate that when the results are announced on December 10, 2021, there will be at least two awards of no more than $500,000 each.

Commenting on MAGMA, America Makes Technology Director Brandon D. Ribic said that the directed project call “addresses an inherently complex and ongoing problem that has significant implications for the aerospace and defense sectors. With this project call, our goal is to gain a better understanding of geometric tolerancing as it relates to thermal management by leveraging model-based technologies to advance designs and demonstrate measurable improvement in the producibility of AM components for high Mach applications. We highly encourage members to team with a design authority who has a deep understanding of design intent in this area.”

According to the proposal guidelines, despite immense progress in successfully demonstrating high Mach applications and the value that AM technologies present in this domain, these products face various design, material, and manufacturing challenges. Nonetheless, AFRL and NCDMM believe there are opportunities to demonstrate measurable improvement for AM product distortion compensation or mitigation using various modeling and analysis techniques.

For this particular project call, the focus will be on product design and manufacturing that could foster improvement in AM product yield and aims to promote and accelerate the development and deployment of innovative, cost-effective, energy-efficient 3D printed technologies to meet defense and commercial needs. Moreover, any proposals should apply to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) and Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) four through seven.

MAGMA aligns to strategic swimlanes determined in the America Makes’ AM Technology Roadmap that, when met, promote inquiry, knowledge-sharing, and technical advancements across the entire industry. The AM Technology Roadmap not only describes the strategic interest and knowledge gaps of the technology landscape, but it also serves as a history of prior efforts conducted by America Makes and its members, which encompass small, medium, and large industry, non-profit organizations, academia, and government partners.

The perspectives of the members contained within the AM Technology Roadmap are representative of all tiers of the US AM supply chain and offer a structure to align the interests of the AM community to within five strategic swimlanes, including design, materials, process, value chain, and AM genome. In addition, there are various new or novel technologies within these swimlanes that a system depends on—otherwise known as Critical Technology Elements—and more than four hundred requirements.

Additionally, the new project builds upon learnings from previous America Makes project calls, including a 2015 project focused on using AM to fabricate conformal heat exchangers for propulsion applications.

Since 2012, America Makes has positioned itself as one of the leading forces in AM innovation. Focused on accelerating the adoption of 3D printing technologies in the US manufacturing sector and increasing domestic manufacturing competitiveness, the renowned AM national accelerator has fostered a highly collaborative infrastructure. It encourages an open exchange of AM information and research through a broad base of members, such as Honeywell and GE, but with an emphasis on assisting small- and medium-sized enterprises and startups.

Participants have until Friday, November 19, 2021, to submit their proposals electronically to [email protected], labeled “America Makes MAGMA PROJECT PROPOSAL.” More information, details, and participant guidelines for the MAGMA can be found here. Additionally, any interested participants can attend America Makes’ informational webinar on the MAGMA project call on October 26, 2021.

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