America Makes Announces $12M Project Calls on Alloy Development & Allowables Generation

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This week near Youngstown, Ohio, America Makes is holding its annual Members Meeting & Exchange (MMX), a member-centric event that engenders strategic discussion and collaboration. The public-private partnership for AM, which is driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) and celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, works to accelerate AM adoption, as well as the country’s global manufacturing competitiveness, through projects, training, standards publication, and more. At the event, which I’m currently attending, the organization announced its two latest Project Calls, which are worth nearly $11.75 million and together make up its largest funding opportunity yet.

Technology Director of America Makes, Brandon Ribic, offered further explanation on the alloy development and allowables generation Project Calls. The first is Powder Alloy Development for Additive Manufacturing (PADAM), while the second is Proliferation of AM Material Datasets.

“These are a product of two to three years of effort, from workshops and discussions and more,” Ribic told the crowd.

The Project Calls are funded by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Research and Engineering Manufacturing Technology Office (OUSD (R&E)), and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). But before we got into the nitty gritty details of each call, Ribic made the important announcement that the submission process has changed. America Makes will no longer be accepting submissions via email, which is a major change. Instead, interested parties need to visit the America Makes website and find Open Project Calls under the “Our Work” tab, then select the one you want. Once you’ve submitted a proposal, you will receive an automated email response letting you know that your submission was successfully received.

Submissions are due by September 29th, so it’s a pretty quick turnaround, as per usual. Individuals have to provide a lot of information, including why they’re submitting, and not just from the technical side, but also where the place is for your idea beyond the proposal, and within your organization. These two calls have very strong criteria, and Ribic said that in comparison to other opportunities from the last few years, “making note of when you need to have a fully executed NDA with us is important.”

“This is not to be done without clear, clear intent,” he reiterated.

Each Project Call has two areas of focus, and one award is expected for each topic area. For PADAM, funded by the AFRL, the total amount of federal funding available is $6 million, and the maximum request for funding varies based on the topic the proposal addresses, with $3.6 million allotted to Topic 1 and $2.4 million to Topic 2. The minimum cost share, or percentage of the federal award amount you can request in a proposal, is 25%, and the maximum allowed Period of Performance (PoP) is 24 months.

According to an America Makes press release, “PADAM project call aims to accelerate the maturation of AM high-temperature metals to demonstrate measurable improvement in application-specific performance criteria.”

The first PADAM topic is focused on High-Temperature Refractory Alloys, which includes refractory high entropy alloys and refractory alloys with oxide dispersion strengthening, or another secondary phase that could inhibit cracking or lead to grain refinement. Ribic explained that this isn’t about developing a new formulation, but rather “taking your ideas and bringing them to the table and starting to scale them in terms of process development and relevant geometric features.”

The second PADAM topic is for High-Temperature Nickel-Based Superalloys. Again, this includes alloys containing oxide dispersion strengthening or a secondary phase leading to grain refinement or inhibiting cracking.

“Nickel-based alloys come in a lot of flavors, you need to explain to us why this particular one is the way to go,” Ribic said.

Ribic pulled up several requirements for PADAM proposals, noting that there are many more he didn’t list, which can be found on the RFP. For instance, each team must have at least one feedstock supplier that has demonstrated experience in providing necessary feedstock materials, and proposals should build toward addressing product-relevant qualification requirements. In terms of eligibility, only the lead proposer has to be an America Makes member (by September 14th), but everyone must have a valid DD2345 to participate.

Ribic explained that there is a major difference between a benefit, which is essentially an opportunity, and impact, which is something that can be measured and you could show to your CEO.

“Take full advantage of the window for Q&A,” Ribic urged. “What you put forth must be practical and achievable.”

The Proliferation of AM Material Datasets Project Call offers a total of $5.75 million, with separate $2.875 million awards anticipated over the two topics. The minimum cost share is 50%, with a maximum allowed PoP of 24 months.

“This project call aims to increase the number and type of pedigreed, statistically based, and industrially relevant AM material datasets. The RFP also looks to encourage the proliferation of these learnings, practices, and data to a more expansive cross-section of the AM supply chain by requiring partnerships with small businesses,” America Makes explained in the release.

The technical approaches will occur over two phases, the first of which will demonstrate the successful qualification of a candidate material process (QMP-A). At the end of this process, before the production of material allowable test coupons and execution of the material allowable test program, a go/no-go decision will be made. Phase two includes the test coupon production, along with testing, data analysis, evaluating the data outliers, inspection, and fractography.

The first topic is Aluminum Alloy Material Datasets, including but not limited to readily printable and processable 6XXX and 7XXX series aluminum alloys, including ones with dispersion strengthening or secondary phases. The second topic is High-Temperature Nickel-Based Superalloys, including but not limited to Haynes 282, Haynes 230, and Inconel 939. However, nickel alloys 718 and 625 do not fall under the scope of this RFP. If a mature candidate material process is clearly demonstrated in the proposal, oxide dispersion strengthen variants will be considered.

Ribic shared some of the many requirements for this Project Call as well, including outlining a specific target market and associated industrial relevance, impact, and benefits. In addition, every team that responds to the proposal has to have at least one small business contributing to the delivery of the project outcome, not just an observer or bystander. But, Ribic encourages those interested to include more than one small business on the team.

For the minimum deliverables, reporting requirements, and other pertinent information for both of these new Project Calls, check out the RFPs on the America Makes website.

Stay tuned for more coverage from MMX 2023! is a proud Media Sponsor of this event.

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