America Makes Announces Special Topic Project Call Awardees

America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute is proud to announce the awardees of three Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) funded Special Topic Project Calls. Driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), America Makes will award more than $2.12 million in AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division funding toward these projects with $998K in matching cost share from the awarded project teams for total funding worth $3.12 million.

According to Ed Morris, America Makes Director and NCDMM Vice President, “The need to issue Special Topic Project Calls was identified during the development of our strategic technology investment plan, the America Makes Additive Manufacturing Technology Roadmap, which aligns industry needs and sets investment priorities. America Makes is grateful to the AFRL team for their funding and support in enabling the America Makers member community to pursue these research and development projects. Currently, with the addition of these three Special Topic Project Calls to the projects underway from our first and second Project Calls, America Makes will soon have a portfolio worth more than $48 million in public and private funds invested in advancing the state-of-the-art in additive manufacturing (AM) in the United States.”

The three Special Topic Project Calls focus on areas of particular interest to AFRL, including closed-loop process control, open source protocol, and non-destructive evaluation (NDE) of complex structures.

“The submitted proposals from the America Makes member community for the Special Topic Project Calls were well-thought-out and addressed the topics and focus areas in depth, exploring some exciting methodologies,” said John Wilczynski, America Makes Deputy Director of Technology Development. “The America Makes review team spent a great deal of time and engaged in much discussion during the down-select process to determine the final five awardees.”

Subject to the finalization of all contractual details and requirements, the selected America Makes Special Topic Project Call Awardees are as follows:

Special Topic – Powder Bed Fusion of Thermoplastics Closed-Loop Process Control

Awardee #1: 3D Systems
Led by 3D Systems, in partnership with the University of Delaware – Center for Composite Manufacturing (UD-CCM), Sandia National Laboratory (SNL), and Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMCO), this project will strive to enable the broader adoption of thermoplastic powder bed fusion in the manufacturing process by including a predictive modeling scheme into a closed-loop hardware/software integrated engineered system to control key process parameters in-situ and solve inherent processing challenges. UD-CCM’s predictive model based solution will build upon and integrate SNL’s materials nanoscale simulation capabilities. 3D Systems, leveraging Lockheed Martin and Sandia’s process sensor selection knowledge and AM systems integration experience, will instrument a 3D Systems’ SLS (selective laser sintering) production machine to successfully demonstrate feasibility and a transition path to commercializing this approach.

Awardee #2: University of Texas – Austin
Led by the University of Texas at Austin, in partnership Harvest/Stratasys, this project will address the need to rapidly advance the use of closed-loop process control for powder bed fusion (PBF) of thermoplastics. The project aims to take this AM technology to a level where very repeatable and certifiable process results can be obtained through the demonstration of feedback control in PBF for improved part quality and performance predictability, while reducing sensitivity to variations in build conditions across different machines and even within a single build process. UT Austin invented the PBF process and, more recently, designed and fabricated a high temperature test-bed for PBF with feedback control as a central part of its architecture. Harvest/Stratasys is one of the largest thermoplastic PBF service bureaus and is at the forefront of production level quality control for polymer AM.

Special Topic – Open Source Process Control for Powder Bed Additive Manufacturing Research

Awardee #1: GE Global Research
Led by GE Global Research, in partnership with GE Aviation’s Additive Development Center (ADC), and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), this project will develop, document, and demonstrate open-source protocols and machine controllers for powder bed fusion additive manufacturing (PBFAM) on commercial and custom-made metal additive machines. Central to this effort are two new protocols that will be developed with input from the open-source PBFAM community: a LAYER Protocol and a SCAN Protocol. The decision to adopt separate LAYER and SCAN protocols is a strategic endeavor to gain fast international acceptance because both protocols will be simple, scalable, comprehensive, extensible, and independent of PBFAM machine type. To accelerate development, the team will leverage existing open-source layering software in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort. Once the protocols are established, three open-source programs will be developed to demonstrate fabrication of parts from STL files.

Awardee #2: Pennsylvania State University
Led by the Pennsylvania State University, in partnership with Honeywell International Inc., Northrop Grumman Corporation, and 3D Systems, Inc., this project will develop and demonstrate an open, layered protocol for PBFAM. The proposed layered, open protocol will define a set of communication constructs used within a cyber-physical system. Each layer of the proposed protocol will define an aspect of the data and communication constructs required to define and execute a powder bed deposition process. It will also enable specification and extraction of scan path and process data and communication between a PBFAM system and other heterogeneous systems. The proposed efforts will leverage ongoing programs at the Center for Innovative Materials Processing though Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D) at Penn State. Through the collaboration with 3D Systems, Honeywell, and Northrop Grumman, the protocol will be developed and then implemented and demonstrated at CIMP-3D on a commercial 3D Systems PBFAM machine. Access to the open protocol will allow researchers access to critical data for modeling, sensing, control, and process optimization and enable industry to enhance qualification and certification efforts, as well as more-efficiently innovate PBFAM process and materials development.

Special Topic – Non-Destructive Evaluation of Complex Metallic Additive Manufactured Structures

Awardee: EWI
Led by EWI, this project will pursue the application of established non-destructive evaluation (NDE) techniques in the inspection of AM components made from titanium and nickel-based alloys and those components fabricated using two AM processes, Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM) and Electron Beam Melting (EBM). With input from industry, a matrix of planar and volumetric flaws and internal nonconformities will be prepared for implantation into the selected AM components. The study will also involve qualification of DMLM and EBM processes to fabricate imbedded planar and volumetric flaws with predetermined type, location and dimensions. Up to 128 coupons with artificial and AM flaws will be manufactured and tested to qualify the flaw fabrication specifications and procedures. Among various NDE modalities, X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) was selected and will be performed to examine the specimens and components with representative AM flaws and conditions. The design and optimization of AM flaw matrix in selected components will be aided by computer modeling and simulation of X-ray CT performance indicating possibly the worst and the best inspection scenarios.

“I want to congratulate the America Makes community and our Special Topic Project Call awardees, as well as recognize the AFRL team for their support and funding,” said America Makes Founding Director and NCDMM President and Executive Director Ralph Resnick. “Through the collaborative efforts of the America Makes member community, we are making extraordinary strides in advancing AM and 3DP technologies.”

The anticipated start date of the Special Topic Projects is early 2015.

For more information, visit: www.americamakes.us

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