America Makes announces project call, $5.9 million funding available

America Makes, the U.S. additive manufacturing accelerator based in Youngstown, Ohio, has announced a new round of funding for projects.

The round is focused on Advanced Tools for Rapid Qualification (ATRQ).

The goal of the ATRQ is the development of cost and energy-efficient AM technologies with defense and commercial potential. Only America Makes’ applied R&D project members will be able to avail the $5.9 million grant, which will be divided into multiple awards of $800,000.

America Makes focuses its resources on the rapid adoption and maturation of additive manufacturing. It was established by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), as the first of 14 public-private bodies in the Manufacturing USA network, for the promotion of advanced manufacturing in the U.S.

Rob Gorham, America Makes Executive Director said, “for our partners at the DoD, the anticipated outcomes of the America Makes ATRQ Directed Project Opportunity are of the utmost importance.”

“The DoD’s need for rapid qualification and certification of AM processes and materials is great. These projects will be instrumental in resolving the current deterrents that are hindering the wider adoption and deployment of AM technologies within the DoD and its supply chain.”

Advanced tools for rapid qualification

The project is funded through the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) by the DoD, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Manufacturing and the Industrial Base Policy Office (OSD/MIBP). The OSD/MIBP is responsible for the DoDMan Tech Program, aimed at developing technologies for sustainable defense systems.

For the research project, selected enterprises must focus on the following three topics:

–     Surrogate damage generation for LPBF defects: in this topic, the teams will form methodologies and procedures to study material anomalies associated with the Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF).

–     Degradation of Polymer Parts Deployed in Harsh Environments: the durability of selected plastics in harsh environmental conditions will be researched. The Joint Additive Manufacturing Working Group (JAMWG) lists the following materials to be the focus of the study PET-G, ABS, Ultem 9085, and Nylon-11/12.

–    Corrosion Mechanisms of LPBF Materials: the third and the final topic will study corrosion mechanisms in the 17-4PH steel, and nickel alloy 625 or aluminium alloy AlSi10Mg. These materials are abundantly used in military hardware. The study will produce a data report of AM materials properties. This will serve as a corrosion guidebook for the AM industry.

John Wilczynski, America Makes’ Technology Director, explained, “for proposal teams, it is critical that they consider tech transition and supply chain impacts, as well as identify application spaces that will benefit from a better understanding of the debit considerations that the DoD must consider. Actively partnering with DoD organizations is key and encouraged.”

The technical requirements of the ATRQ project ensure that the objectives of this project align with the wider goals of America Makes and the DoD. These aims are outlined in the America Makes Technology Roadmap.

Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-Cost Sustainment (MAMLS), one of the biggest U.S Air Force project under the aegis of America Makes, has restarted Air Force legacy aircraft. Image via YouTube
Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-Cost Sustainment (MAMLS), one of the biggest U.S Air Force project under the aegis of America Makes, has restarted Air Force legacy aircraft. Image via YouTube

Maturation and adoption of AM technology

In 2016, America Makes and Deloitte, a provider of consulting, risk management and other professional services, collaborated to help the DoD draft technology roadmaps for each stakeholder involved: the US Army, Department of the Navy, US Air Force, and Defense Logistics Agency.

Finally, from these four road maps, a joint Additive Manufacturing Roadmap was produced, identifying the process to fill the gaps between the current and future state of the AM technology them.

The overarching objectives of the Additive Manufacturing Roadmap include acceleration of AM adoption, shaping industry direction, reducing lead times, defining AM tools, developing digital infrastructure, and empowering warfighters in the field.

The influence of this initiative has been such that Rolls Royce, an automobile manufacturer, and Raytheon, a defense contractor specializing in weapons, have aligned their R&D policies with the Additive Manufacturing Roadmap. 

To achieve its aims, America Makes has been active in arranging grants, closing skills and education gap, and kickstarting applied research projects like the latest Advanced Tools for Rapid Qualification.

Applications are currently open for the ATRQ concept and proposal phase. In the first phase, applicants must supply a summary of their team’s technical approach and requirements of technology transition. The second phase will accept proposals from teams whose concept has been approved.

The deadline for the project concept is 5:00 p.m. EST Wednesday, November 28, 2018. Proposals for the approved concepts must be received by the end of Friday, January 25, 2019.

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Featured image shows the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) W.M. Keck Center, one of America Makes’ 3D printing satellite center. Image courtesy of JR Hernandez/UTEP