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America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, and driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), is proud to announce its next Project Call for additive manufacturing (AM) projects. NCDMM/America Makes is targeting to make available approximately $5 million to fund multiple awards with at least $5 million in matching funds from the awarded project teams for total funding worth roughly $10 million.

With the addition of this Project Call,America Makes will soon have a portfolio of more than $96 million in public and private funds invested in advancing the state-of-the-art in AM in the United States.

“Today’s Project Call announcement underscores the importance that workforce, education, and outreach efforts play in the successful transition and commercialization of technical R&D outcomes within the additive manufacturing industry,” said Rob Gorham, America Makes Director of Operations. “America Makes and our membership community are working to advance the state-of-the-art in additive manufacturing. In conducting this R&D, we need to ensure that we are prepared to train and educate the U.S. manufacturing workforce in the innovative breakthroughs that will change our industry and economy.”

From a technical standpoint, the America Makes Project Call is focused on those areas within the five “swim lanes”—Design, Material, Process, Value Chain, and AM Genome—of the Technology Roadmap that hold the greatest impact as determined by America Makes membership through the Roadmap Advisory Group (RMAG).

In addressing the workforce, education, and outreach (WEO) requirements for the Project Call, the newly formed America Makes WEO Advisory Group engaged in workshops with membership and analyzed these activities from past project calls to develop a WEO Roadmap with five “swim lanes”—Knowledge & Awareness, Hands-on Learning, Trainee Programs, Talent Pipeline, and Industrial Genome. Using this Roadmap, America Makes has included an expanded and more defined WEO component in this Project Call.

The Project Call is limited to eight “critical technology element” technical topic areas, along with the addition of five “critical talent element” WEO topic areas, and all having subset focus areas. Proposals can address one or more technical topic areas, but must address all evaluation criteria and directly align the technical topic area to one or more WEO topic area(s).

Organized and explained within the context of the Technology Roadmap “swim lanes,” the eight critical technology elements of the America Makes Project Call are as follows:

DESIGN: 1) Product and Process Design Aides/Applications

The objective of this technical focus area is to drive technological advancements in new and novel non-proprietary design methods and tools, specifically in product and process design aides and applications, required to enable a culture change and break the cycle of designing AM parts like cast or machined parts. This includes roadmap gap closure solution ideas that avoid being constrained by fundamental limitations associated with current CAD/CAM/CAE/PLM tools and design practices that have been developed for conventional manufacturing processes. The metrics in which the Design technical area will be assessed by the Institute include complexity exploitation, 3D graded materials, multi-material integration, model-based development, and product customization.

MATERIAL: 2) AM Tech Data Packages

The objective of this technical focus area is to build the body of knowledge around benchmark AM property characterization data, specifically in the area of AM tech data packages, and eliminate variability in “as-built” material properties. This includes creating a paradigm shift away from controlling process parameters and “as-built” properties to instead controlling the underlying physics of the AM process at the micro-scale to achieve consistent, reproducible “as-designed” properties. The metrics in which the Material technical area will be assessed by the Institute include standardized feedstock materials, benchmark property data, microstructure control, process window definition, and processing specifications.

PROCESS: 3) Multi-material Delivery & Deposition Systems and/or 4) Next-generation Machines

The objective of this technical focus area is to drive technological advancements in multi-material delivery and deposition systems and next-generation machines that enable faster, more accurate, and higher detail resolution AM machines with larger build volumes and improved “as-built” part quality. This includes targeting critical technologies and the associated sub-systems needed where the AM “machine level” process performance improvements are needed, similar to machine tool flexible manufacturing systems. This includes areas, such as, but not limited to, multi-axis, multi-power laser NC control sub-systems, process temperature gradient control sub-systems, continuous equipment, etc. The metrics in which the Process technical area will be assessed by the Institute include faster build speeds, improved dimensional accuracy, improved surface quality, larger part envelopes, and improved process stability.

VALUE CHAIN: 5) Advanced Sensing & Detection Methods and/or 6) Rapid Inspection Technologies

The objective of this technical focus area is to drive technological innovations in advanced sensing & detection methods that enable step change improvements in end-to-end value chain cost and time to market for AM produced products. This includes rapid qualification/certification methods, as well as a holistic focus on integrating technologies across the entire product cradle-to-cradle life cycle, including material and product recyclability. This technical focus has been identified to help drive a priority focus on 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. The metrics in which the Value Chain technical area will be assessed by the Institute include costs as they relate to materials, processing, quality control, productivity, and energy efficiency.

AM GENOME: 7) Benchmark Validation Use Cases and/or 8) Model-assisted Property Prediction

The objective of this technical focus area is to drive technological advancements in benchmark validation use cases that enable step change improvements in the time and cost required to design, develop, and qualify new materials for AM. This includes the development of new and novel computational methods, such as physics-based and model-assisted material property prediction tools, the development of common benchmark data sets needed to validate the computational predictions, and new and novel ideas for material property characterization that help break the cycle of developing design allowables for “every” new AM material-process combination. The metrics in which the AM Genome technical area will be assessed by the Institute include concurrent methods, computational and experimental tools, modular open simulations, and open multi-scale data.

Organized and explained within the context of the WEO Roadmap “swim lanes,” the five critical talent elements of America Makes Project Call are as follows:

KNOWLEDGE & AWARENESS: 1) eLearning Courses

The objective of this talent focus area is to increase the literacy of the industrial base in AM and 3DP printing in order to lead to broader adoption of the technology through the creation of eLearning Courses. This includes solutions that help educate students, educators, large companies, small- to medium-sized manufacturers, start-ups, and state and local economic development agencies. The focus of this area is to help increase technical depth and breadth of technology awareness in a variety of subject matter areas of interest to the particular stakeholder segment, including technology capabilities, available materials and processes, and techniques for designing products that take full advantage of the design freedoms offered by the technology.

HANDS-ON LEARNING: 2) Instructor-led Labs

The objective of this talent focus area is to increase the proficiency of the industrial base in using AM and 3DP technologies as a problem-solving tool through the development of hands-on activities, such as the development of structured, instructor-led labs, to hone skills (rather than only relying upon theoretical knowledge.) This includes the development of scalable WEO training solutions that utilize the technology as a learning tool and enable design-build-test approaches to address a multitude of demographics that include machine operators, technicians, the general public, and students of all ages across the K-Gray spectrum. The challenge here lies not in the learning concept itself, but rather the design of well-thought-out, meaningful, and relevant activities, exercises, and projects that can be scaled and deployed across the AM ecosystem.

TRAINEE PROGRAMS: 3) Customized & Canned Training

The objective of this talent focus area is to develop functional expertise and competencies through the development of programs that build industrial experience using AM technologies to solve a variety of real-world problems in industrial on-the-job environments. This includes the development of formal program standards, schemas, protocols, certifications, badges, and other credentials that drive consistency of program outcomes by formalizing these on-the-job training experiences. The availability of a highly skilled AM workforce that is savvy in the use the technology in a variety of applications across the product life cycle is critical to the successful adoption and scaling of the technology across the ecosystem.

TALENT PIPELINE: 4) R&D Project Mentoring

The objective of this talent focus area is to build industrial-educational-governmental partnerships that engage all stakeholders in creating a strong high-quality pipeline of talent with sufficient readiness to satisfy current and future industrial workforce needs/requirements. This includes the development of approaches to better engage industry SMEs with academia in America Makes research projects as mentors and advisors to students and employees to better prepare their industrial readiness and to understand how to use and implement proposed technology. Building a pipeline of talent is critical to the successful adoption of AM and 3DP technologies by the industrial base. The critical talent elements within this focus area have been designed to highlight WEO roadmap investment areas targeted at creating the social capital required to convert the region’s resources into a robust talent pipeline that flows into the ecosystem.

INDUSTRIAL GENOME: 5) Economic Value Propositions

The objective of this talent focus area is to help drive the large-scale adoption of AM and 3DP technologies by networks that enhance knowledge transfer and diffusion. This includes using AM and 3DP technologies for new product development, cost reduction, energy efficiency, and supply chain efficiency. It also includes building regional technology cluster and/or supply chain capabilities where AM and 3DP manufacturing close critical gaps that lead to improved regional competitiveness and economic growth. This swim lane should also drive the development of knowledge and infrastructure that makes WEO training solutions accessible to industrial firms looking to adopt AM and 3DP technologies and grow their workforce.

Additionally, in response to direct America Makes member feedback, the Institute is making a significant change to the project call proposal process with a new, two-phase process.

Phase 1 (Concept Phase)

Proposers are now required to first fill out a Project Concept form, summarizing their team’s high-level technical approach, technology transition requirements, and WEO plans. Proposal teams have four weeks to prepare the Project Concept form, which is due on Friday, April 1, 2016.

Phase 2 (Proposal Phase)

America Makes will then review the Project Concept forms submitted by Friday, April 1, 2016,and proceed with a down-select process. Only those project teams that pass the down-select process will move forward to the full Proposal phase.

America Makes will be in communication with all submission teams to notify them whether or not they will be proceeding to the full Proposal phase. No detailed feedback will be provided at that time.

In the Proposal phase, project teams will develop a full proposal as in previous project calls. Proposal teams will have approximately five weeks to submit their full proposals to America Makes, which are due on Friday, May 20, 2016.

“In making these changes, America Makes believes that they will streamline the entire proposal process, promote even greater membership involvement, enable a more efficient down-select process, enhance the quality of proposal submissions, and in general, make the process more productive for all,” said John Wilczynski, America Makes Deputy Director of Technology Development. “We are excited to get this Project Call underway and look forward to strong participation in it.”

To be eligible for the America Makes Project Call, a lead proposer must be an America Makes member by the Proposal submission deadline of Friday, May 20, 2016.

All Project Concept forms are due by Friday, April 1, 2016. Submissions must be presented by e-mail to the technical contact, John Wilczynski, America Makes Deputy Director – Technology Development, at projectcall@americamakes.us with “America Makes PROJECT CONCEPT” as the Subject line.

All Project Concept submissions will be acknowledged by a return e-mail confirmation from NCDMM.

The America Makes Project Call award announcement will occur in June 2016. The anticipated start date of the projects is August 2016.

For more information, visit: www.americamakes.us/engage/opportunities/item/856-project-call-2016

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