America Makes’ $2.1M project call to capitalize on AM

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In alliance with the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), America Makes has unveiled a new open project call valued at $2.1 million.

Funding for this initiative comes from both the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Manufacturing Technology Office (OSD(R&E)) and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (OSD CAPE). Proposals are invited across six specific topic areas, all aimed at improving additive manufacturing (AM) technologies.

“We are grateful for the diligent efforts put forth by the America Makes Roadmap Advisory Group and Working Groups to assist in identifying these project call topics that directly address member needs,” said, Dr. Brandon Ribic, Technology Director. “Sustainable manufacturing practices offer the potential to enhance the value proposition and extend the design benefits of AM technologies. This project call offers the opportunity to demonstrate efficiency improvements in material, process, and product qualifications while helping to identify and validate lifecycle cost reduction methods that aid the environment.”

America Makes at RAPID + TCT 2024. Photo via America Makes.

Focused funding and strategic goals

The project call is organized to distribute six awards across these topic areas. Topics 1-5 will receive four awards, each with a funding cap of $225,000. Topic 6 will have two awards, each not exceeding $600,000. 

The specific focus areas for Topics 1-5 are designed to harness the unique advantages of AM. These benefits include the ability to create complex shapes, reduce the need for specialized tools, and shorten production times. By focusing on these areas, the initiative aims to make AM a more versatile and efficient manufacturing method.

In Topic 1, the emphasis is on verifying the dimensions of complex AM parts during production. On the other hand, Topic 2 includes the development of sensor calibration methods, characterization techniques, and operating limits to ensure reliable process data. Topic 3 aims at understanding the relationship between small test samples and the full-sized parts’ material properties.

Moreover, Topic 4 explores innovative ways to manufacture aluminum parts at lower costs with higher productivity wheras, Topic 5 addresses the challenge of predicting and managing residual stress in parts made using Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF). Lastly, Topic 6 invites proposals aiming to develop and demonstrate sustainable practices and products in AM. This includes approaches focusing on design, material selection, development, material handling, and recycling.

Project call timeline: 

  • Launch: June 19, 2024 
  • Kickoff Webinar: June 26 at TRX@RAPID + TCT (Registration Required) 
  • Questions Due from Proposers about Scope or Approach: July 2 
  • Membership Eligibility Deadline: August 1 
  • Submission Deadline by 5 p.m., ET: August 16 (Topics 1-6) 
  • Anticipated Awards Announcement: September 20

Proposers are encouraged to review the full Request for Proposals (RFP) for detailed guidelines and submission requirements, which can be accessed here.

America Makes booth at RAPID + TCT 2024. Photo via America Makes.
America Makes booth at RAPID + TCT 2024. Photo via America Makes.

Fostering AM through strategic funding initiatives

By funding projects that address key challenges in AM, the Open Project Calls by America Makes help to move the technology forward. Last year, America Makes collaborated with OSD ManTech and several Manufacturing Innovation Institutes to launch a project call with funding of up to $1.5 million

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), this initiative aimed to support projects aligned with the MII Point of Need (PoN) Challenge. The focus of the DoD PoN Manufacturing Challenge Project Call was to develop dual-use applications that meet the specific needs of both the DoD and the broader domestic manufacturing sector.

With a combined budget of $1.7 million, America Makes’ project calls in 2022, the Rapid Innovation Call and the Steel (HY-80) Wire-Arc Additive Heat Treatment (SWAAHT) Project Call, addressed distinct but crucial aspects of AM enhancement. 

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)-funded Rapid Innovation Call ($400,000) aimed broadly at AM technology improvements. Additionally, the SWAAHT Project Call ($1.35 million), supported by NCDMM, AFRL, and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), focused on developing modeling frameworks to optimize large-scale ferritic steel DED and post-build heat treatment.

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Featured image shows America Makes booth at RAPID + TCT 2024. Photo via America Makes.