U.S. Air Force Metal 3D Printing Analysis to Be Performed by Wohlers Associates


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Wohlers Associates, powered by ASTM International, has been chosen to spearhead a project for the U.S. Air Force (USAF). This project, focusing on techno-economic analysis in powder bed AM, is part of a broader initiative titled “Improvements in Manufacturing Productivity via Additive Capabilities and Techno-Economic Analysis (IMPACT).” Orchestrated by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) and America Makes, the $11.7 million project is backed by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Wohlers Associates and ASTM International on their efforts exploring techno-economic analysis of metal powder bed AM to address future needs of the USAF and the nation,” says Brandon Ribic, technology director at America Makes. “America Makes and the domestic supply chain has expelled considerable effort to gain a deeper understanding of this opportunity space and see this project as providing the appropriate knowledge to begin addressing these needs with confidence.”

Tasked with Topic 9 of the IMPACT project, Wohlers Associates is tasked with delivering a thorough techno-economic analysis, focusing on metal powder bed AM technologies. The analysis will provide strategic insights for the USAF, aiding in the development of targeted investment strategies to enhance efficiency and strengthen confidence in the Metal AM PBF processes.

“These efforts will not only improve the business case and reduce part costs, but also explore new technological avenues for evaluation and utilization, leading to significant cost savings and efficiency gains,” notes Dr. Mohsen Seifi, ASTM International vice president of global advanced manufacturing programs. “The award is a testament to our dedication to enhancing the techno-economic understanding of metal powder bed AM. Through this project, we are setting the stage for transformative advancements in manufacturing efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and technological excellence. This project is more than an analysis, it’s also a roadmap for future innovation, ensuring an ongoing effort to promote the advancement of the additive manufacturing industry’s’ potential.”

Other IMPACT award winners and their projects cover various topics like 3D printed molds for sand castings, ceramic AM technology for investment casting, optimizing forging preforms production, and die repair practices for forging applications.

5th Annual AM CoE Report

In parallel, ASTM International’s Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AM CoE) has released its fifth annual report. The report showcases the organization’s expanding research to standards portfolio, industry partnerships, acquisitions, workforce development programs, and team growth.

Among the items discussed in the document are the fact that Wohlers Associates released three major reports, covering post-processing, 3D printing for construction, and their annual flagship report. Additionally, the group published “The Strategic Guide: Additive Manufacturing In-Situ Technology Readiness,” a comprehensive document focusing on AM qualification, developed in collaboration with NASA and America MakesMultiple R&D project work items were approved as standards by the F42 ASTM committee on additive manufacturing technologies.

A screenshot from the 5th annual ASTM International AM CoE report discussing the progress of the F42 committee.

The report also detailed the launch of the Additive Manufacturing Quality (AMQ) Certification program, which aims to establish a standardized quality level in the AM supply chain. This program is significant for qualifying additive manufacturers by ensuring consistent production quality across various aspects of the manufacturing process. ASTM International also developed a certification program for personnel operating metal laser powder bed machines, a crucial step in ensuring competency and standardization in AM operations. Additional achievements include the establishment of the Consortium for Materials Data and Standardization, a variety of research initiatives and a potentially crucial project targeting the manufacturing larger components using multi-laser AM technologies.

News of the fifth annual report and America Makes funding comes as America Makes and NCDMM have surpassed $729 million, earmarked for American 3D printing initiatives and beyond. This flurry of activities and investments in AM, particularly by the DoD, signals a strategic focus on integrating and leveraging 3D printing in military and defense operations, as detailed in the Additive Manufacturing for Military and Defense” from Additive Manufacturing Research (formerly SmarTech Analysis).

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