The Air Force Research Laboratory hardly lacks for new and innovative ideas and the Air Force has a long history of embracing new technologies like stealth and now, additive manufacturing.
The AFRL is operated by the United States Air Force Materiel Command, and it controls the entire Air Force science and technology research budget. That budget is considerable; it was in fact $2.4 billion in 2006, the last year for which budget data is available.
Initially organized at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio in 1997, the AFRL was a consolidation effort aimed at pulling four Air Force laboratory facilities together; Wright, Phillips, Rome, and Armstrong along with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Among seven “directorates,” the AFRL specializes in performing experiments in collaboration with university and contractor researchers. The work that has emerged from the organization have been among the most technically advanced aerospace projects in history; the X-37, X-40, X-53, HTV-3X, the Advanced Tactical Laser and the Tactical Satellite Program are all on that list.
A pair of research contracts worth over $1 million dollars have been awarded to develop advanced aerospace and defense 3D printing manufacturing capabilities by two of the major players in the business, America Makes (the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
3D Systems was named as the winner of the contracts, and the award came as a result of the company’s defense and aerospace manufacturing track record. The contracts center on 3DS’ proprietary Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Direct Metal 3D Printing (DMP) technologies.
“The collaborative – and forward looking – initiative of America Makes members is driving extraordinary strides in 3D printing-centric advanced manufacturing for this important industry,” says Ralph Resnick, the founding director and executive director of America Makes. “America Makes is grateful for the support and funding from AFRL to enable important research like this.”
The contracts are aimed at developing a precision, closed loop and advanced manufacturing and monitoring platform.
The first of the contracts will be led by 3DS and involves a partnership with the University of Delaware’s Center for Composite Manufacturing (UDCCM), Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) and Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMCO). It’s designed to integrate what the company calls “predictive technologies” using SLS 3D printers while dynamically monitoring parts at the layer level during the manufacturing process.
The second contract, which will be completed in collaboration with the Applied Research Laboratory of Pennsylvania State University, Honeywell International and Northrop Grumman Corporation, relates to the Direct Metal 3D printing process and will aid aerospace and defense manufacturers in gaining control of every aspect of the direct metal manufacturing process at the layer level.
“These important research projects will position leading industry manufacturers to 3D print high-performance precision parts at convincing scale with enhanced functionality,” said Neal Orringer, the Vice President of Alliances and Partnerships for 3DS. “3D Systems pioneered the use of advanced manufacturing for aerospace and defense applications and is proud to work with such esteemed partners to further advance these technologies and meet and exceed the future demands of the Air Force.”
Both projects are set to get underway early this year. What are your thoughts on this news? Let us know in the America Makes and AFRL Contracts forum thread on 3DPB.com.
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and receive information and offers from third party vendors.
You May Also Like
$138M to Support Ursa Major’s 3D Printed Rocket Engines
Earlier this year, TechCrunch revealed that Ursa Major Technologies, the Colorado-based startup specializing in using additive manufacturing (AM) for modular rocket engines, had taken in $100 million in its Series...
Biden Admin Announces Flurry of Reshoring Actions, Including Council on Supply Chain Resilience
Yesterday, I posted about the over $6 billion in new funding for US advanced manufacturing related to batteries and semiconductor packaging announced by the Biden administration to be awarded in...
Over 20B Aerospace Parts to Be 3D Printed by 2030 – AMR’s Chart of the Week
The “Chart of the Week” from Additive Manufacturing Research (“AMR”, formerly SmarTech Analysis) is a weekly segment that offers readers a dive into the additive manufacturing (AM) landscape, showcasing pivotal statistics and...
US Air Force Awards Materion $5M for Beryllium 3D Printing
The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has awarded a two-year, $5 million contract to Materion Corporation of Ohio to expand its R&D into 3D printing applications for beryllium and...
Upload your 3D Models and get them printed quickly and efficiently.