Established almost two and a half years ago, America Makes (also known as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute) has already awarded two rounds of funding to companies and institutions seeking to improve industrial 3D printing through a number of different research-intensive initiatives. Some of those that received funding last year include GE, which is working to enhance quality assurance; North Carolina State University, hoping to automate post-processing for metal printed parts; and Michigan Tech, developing a low-cost metal welding 3D printer. The US’s first 3D printing institute is now on its third round of awards, looking for new projects to fund with a $8 million, to be matched by another $8 by the awarded project teams themselves.
Rob Gorham, America Makes Director of Operations, said of the new project call, “Today’s announcement marks yet another significant investment in AM made available through the Institute. 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.” John Wilczynski, America Makes Deputy Director of Technology Development, added, “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.”
The America Makes Project Call is seeking proposals that fall into five broad technical categories, determined by America Makes members via the Technology Investment Strategy Workshops, led by America Makes and the Roadmap Advisory Group. All of the categories represent a shift away from traditional manufacturing processes towards 3D printing-specific industry practices. The categories are: Additive Manufacturing Design, meant to drive the cultivation of design for 3D printing, and not traditional manufacturing methods; Additive Manufacturing Material, intended to control the actual physics of 3D printing materials at the micro-scale level, rather than focusing on the general manufacturing parameters of the materials as they exist in already built objects; Additive Manufacturing Process, which is focused on improving the scale, quality, and cost of industrial 3D printing; Additive Manufacturing Value Chain, a category that hopes to find methods for incorporating 3D printing into the larger manufacturing supply chain from holistic standpoint; and Additive Manufacturing Genome, representing the larger computational steps necessary to allow for the quicker design, development, and qualification of new 3D printing materials.
In order to be eligible for the Project Call, you must be a member of America Makes. So, if you work for a large corporation, say GE or Lockheed Martin, a research institute, like the University of Pittsburgh, or an enterprising, young start-up, like 3DSIM or Senvol, you have until May 1 to submit your proposal. If you don’t already belong to America Makes, you can learn how to join at this link here.