Elementum 3D Receives $2.875M to Lead Aluminum 3D Printing Research

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Elementum 3D, a Colorado-based additive manufacturing (AM) company specializing in metals development, has been awarded $2.875 million by Manufacturing USA institute America Makes for the “Proliferation of AM Aluminum Alloy Materials Datasets” project call. Elementum 3D will act as the team lead for the research project, in a collaboration with 10 other AM companies and organizations.

The objective of the Proliferation of AM Materials Datasets project calls is to accelerate the use of statistical analysis in the characterization of metal AM feedstocks for sectors with the lowest risk tolerances, such as aerospace and energy. In this case specifically, the project will be focused on achieving that goal for Elementum’s A7050-RAM2 aluminum feedstock, which has been shown to outperform conventional Aluminum 7050 in terms of toughness and corrosion resistance.

Elementum’s partners on the project include EOS North America, software provider Dyndrite, and Ohio State University’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence, among others. In addition to the nearly $3 million in funding provided by America Makes, Elementum 3D and its partners will contribute additional funds equivalent to 50 percent of the award, meaning the total value of the project is over $4 million.

In a press release about the project, Dr. Jacob Nuechterlein, the president and founder of Elementum 3D, said, “America Makes’ push to advance AM material datasets is monumental for the manufacturing industry. It stimulates greater confidence in high-strength aluminum print quality and broadens the AM supply chain. We are excited to join forces with the other awardees. Together, our expansive knowledge and expertise in materials development establishes the future of AM materials.”

The head of product at Dyndrite, Steve Walton, said, “Most industries are just beginning to see the opportunities provided by [AM]. Broader adoption of [AM] in critical industries like defense, energy, and aerospace has been hampered by lack of public, traceable, statistically significant data sets that characterize high value materials. We look forward to working alongside Elementum 3D and America Makes to reverse this paradigm. We are helping to proliferate knowledge that enables new solutions through the adoption of [AM].”

With the National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS) having just been released, DoD appears to be more eager than ever to find working models for improved data-sharing between various agencies of the federal government, between the US government and its allies, and between government agencies and the private sector. As the present example illustrates, America Makes’ project calls are about as ideal a model for those tasks as could be hoped for.

Moreover, the nature of the project demonstrates how America Makes’ activities function to tackle multiple problems simultaneously: in addition to data creation and data-sharing, the project should also push forward materials characterization and qualification, as well as workforce development. These are the essential ingredients for rebuilding a defense industrial base (DIB), precisely what the NDIS sets out to accomplish.

Above all, the America Makes’ project calls reinforce the idea that the establishment of networks centered around public-private partnerships will be the key factor determining how successful the US’s manufacturing reshoring efforts will be. At least in the current phase of the AM industry’s history, cooperation is likely to be a much more fruitful strategy than competition.

Images courtesy of Elementum 3D

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