downloadIf you are serious about 3D printing and the complexities of its research and development, and are not yet a member of America Makes, now’s the time to sign up so that you and your team can be part of their recent ‘Call for Projects.’ (America Makes offers three tiers of membership.)

As America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, seeks serious proposals regarding research and development projects in 3D printing, members are able to submit their proposals through May 1, 2015.

This is certainly not your run-of-the-mill contest and not meant just for the whimsical 3D printing hobbyist. $8 million dollars is being funded from The National Center for Defense Manufacturing & Machining and America Makes to those with the top proposals that ‘demonstrate the potential to increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.’

Each project is allowed $1 million or less (no more) and they will be allowing projects on a smaller level, with lesser monetary sponsorship. Those participating will have a period of 18 months, beginning in July 2015, with each team designating a lead proposer being fully responsible for all project performance.

images (4)“This Project Call demonstrates America Makes’ continued commitment to maturing critical technologies specific to AM, as well as furthering the collective body of knowledge available to our membership that they can leverage for the advancement of our industry at large,” said John Wilczynski, America Makes Deputy Director of Technology Development.

Each proposal team must contain at least one industry organization, with ‘cost share of at least a 100% match of the government funding required.’ Click here for more information.

Five areas of interest, with sub-areas, are highlighted for proposals. Those are:

  • Additive Manufacturing Design – What is hoped for in the area of design is that proposal teams can develop ways to break from the current constraints and limitations caused by computer-aided design tools, as well as practices that are not geared toward contemporary design and manufacturing with 3D printing, but rather traditional processes. New tools are needed for the new technology, and it’s hoped that innovating in that area will improve the ‘supply chain’ as manufacturers and those involved in innovations can use new and improved design tools for 3D printing across the board.
  • Additive Manufacturing Material – For this proposal type, they expect teams to move away from the ‘as-built’ concept and instead focus on ‘as-designed,’ in an effort to harness the ‘underlying physics of the AM process at the micro-scale to achieve consistent, reproducible microstructures.’ The key for this area is to find more consistency and standardization, and less of an ‘ad-hoc’ attitude in 3D printing that leads to inconsistencies and erratic outcomes. They hope that with these proposal projects variability can be eliminated while creating open-source specifications that work with any 3D printer, regardless of manufacturer or vendor.
  • Additive Manufacturing Process – The overall goal is to provide technology that is viable and does not require post-production handling. Expressing the concern that current limits keep 3D printing from being affordable regarding volume and requiring high maintenance post process, the mission is to develop technology with better processing capabilities with a focus on equipment that has better resolution and much larger build sizes.
  • Additive Manufacturing Value Chain – In this proposal area, project teams are asked to focus on better integration from A to Z in production of 3D printing, rather than allowing the current ‘fragmented’ state to flounder on. With proposals regarding advancement, it’s hoped that the value chain could become more developed, integrated and affordable rather than singular, improving the bottom line, deadline, and the amount of time it takes products to get to market. It’s believed this could be achieved through ‘identifying advance manufacturing enterprise (AME) opportunities for creating a single integrated digital thread; help identify workforce skill set needs and technology enablers, such as design aides and apps to improve productivity; and highlight the need for new and novel rapid design and inspection technologies.’
  • Additive Manufacturing Genome – This area revolves around creating new materials that are conducive to streamlining and improving 3D printing, in terms of creating new computational methods and tools, new data sets, and ‘novel ideas for material property characterization that help break the cycle of developing design allowables for every new AM material-process combination.’ The thought is that the way new materials are currently being conceptualized is holding back the 3D printing industry on a larger scale and it needs to be streamlined in order to allow for greater efficiency and affordability.
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America Makes Headquarters in Youngstown, OH

“Today’s announcement marks yet another significant investment in AM made available through the Institute,” said Rob Gorham, America Makes Director of Operations. “With the addition of this Project Call, along with our most recent Directed Project Opportunity funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), America Makes will soon have a portfolio worth more than $68 million in public and private funds invested in advancing the state-of-the-art in AM in the United States.”

If you are planning to submit a proposal, your project leader should email the proposed topic to John.Wilczynski@ncdmm.org by Wednesday, March 25, 2015. In March, a webinar regarding the process will be given, with dates on that to be provided shortly. Final award announcements will be made on Friday, June 12, 2015.

Note that projects must meet the technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4-7 and Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) 4-7 at the start of the proposed project. Find out more here.

Headquartered in Youngstown, OH, America Makes is the ‘national accelerator’ for 3D printing working toward greater strides for 3D printing in research, development, and innovation. Their mission is to increase manufacturing competitiveness for the U.S. worldwide.

Do you have an interest in working on a proposal, and do you have a team in mind? What do you think would be the most crucial area to focus on? Tell us about it in the America Makes Announces ‘Call for Projects’ forum over at 3DPB.com.

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