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America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is proud to announce its next project call for additive manufacturing (AM) applied research and development projects. Driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), America Makes will provide up to $8 million in funding toward these projects with at least $8 million in matching cost share from the awarded project teams for total funding worth $16 million.

“Today’s announcement marks yet another significant investment in AM made available through the Institute,” said Rob Gorham, America Makes Director of Operations. “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.”

The America Makes Project Call is focused on those areas with the greatest impact as determined by the America Makes membership participation in the Technology Investment Strategy Workshops facilitated by America Makes and the Roadmap Advisory Group.

“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,” said John Wilczynski, America Makes Deputy Director of Technology Development.

The Project Call is limited to five technical topic areas with subset focus areas. Proposals can address one or more technical topic areas, but must address all evaluation criteria. The America Makes Project Call technical topics are as follows:

I. Additive Manufacturing Design:

The objective of this technical focus area is to drive technological advancements in new and novel non-proprietary design methods and tools 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.

Current design methodologies and practices for product development have been optimized for conventional manufacturing processes (e.g., machining, casting, injection molding, powder pressing, composite mold lay-ups, electronic surface mount technology, etc.) and do not allow benefits and design freedom enabled by AM to be fully realized. Needed are new and novel design methodologies for AM produced parts that can fully exploit the benefits of being able to 3D print parts, using the rapidly growing variety of metallic; polymer and fiber-reinforced polymer; ceramic; and electronic feedstock materials for AM. This includes the integration of these new non-proprietary product and process design practices to enable manufacturers of all sizes to adopt the technology and be able to effectively use it to drive innovation across the supply chain.

II. Additive Manufacturing Material:

The objective of this technical focus area is to build the body of knowledge around benchmark AM property characterization data and eliminate variability in “as-built” material properties. This includes creating a paradigm shift away from controlling process parameters and “as-built” microstructures to instead controlling the underlying physics of the AM process at the micro-scale to achieve consistent, reproducible microstructures and hence “as-designed” properties.

Current AM processes and “as-built” part properties are being characterized in an ad hoc manner, leading to inconsistent and incomplete datasets that exhibit a high degree of property variability and uncertainty. Needed are standardized specifications that minimize variability in feedstock material properties along with more rigorous processing methods and guidelines that enable better control of the underlying physics of the AM processing that enable “as-designed” microstructures to be produced leading to reduced variability in “as-built” material properties.  This also includes the development of “open source” feedstock material specifications that are agnostic to a particular machine vendor and the development of standardized post-processing guidelines, such as, but not limited to, heat treatment and hot isostatic pressing for metallic parts to minimize property variability.

III. Additive Manufacturing Process:

The objective of this technical focus area is to drive technological advancements 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.

Current state AM processing capability limitations prevent many candidate parts from being economically viable at production volumes and often require extensive secondary post-processing to achieve the same characteristics as conventionally produced parts. Needed are advancements in numerous machine-level technologies, allowing AM to move from being a primarily rapid prototyping technology to a production viable technology. This includes the development of technologies that help accelerate, optimize, and control the underlying physics of the deposition, melt/sinter/extrude, and solidification mechanisms, which contribute to improved processing capabilities.

IV. Additive Manufacturing Value Chain:

The objective of this technical focus area is to drive technological advancements 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.

Current AM technology development efforts have been targeting individual elements of the value chain and/or product development life cycle in a fragmented manner and do not approach improving AM produced part cost and cycle time using a holistic system integration approach. Needed are enabling technologies focused on better integrating all elements of the AM value chain and product development life cycle together, including recognizing that design and inspection could become the new bottlenecks in the AM value chain as more complex 3D graded and multi-material components are produced. The goal of this technical focus area is thus to place a priority focus on the development and integration of affordability focused AM technologies across the entire cradle-to-cradle life cycle and value chain to reduce the overall AM produced part cost, cycle time, and time to market.

V. Additive Manufacturing Genome:

The objective of this technical focus area is to drive technological advancements 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.

Current material development, characterization, and qualification approaches are both highly empirical and serial in nature and as such, the associated cost, time, and risk required to develop and qualify new AM materials and processes are inhibiting large-scale technology adoption and insertion. Needed are the development of new and novel computationally enabled paradigm shifting “genome” building blocks that radically accelerate the time and reduce the cost associated with new material discovery, development, and qualification using concurrent product and process development models. The technical focus and goals for this technical focus area mirror the larger National Materials Genome Initiative, which is targeting an aggressive 2X improvement in the cost and time required to develop and qualify new AM materials.

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 1, 2015.

An e-mail notice of intent to submit from the lead proposer of the project team is requested no later than Wednesday, March 25, 2015, to John.Wilczynski@ncdmm.org and should include the proposed topics(s)/subtopic(s).

All proposals are due by Friday, May 1, 2015. Submissions must be presented by e-mail to the technical contact listed below with “America Makes PROJECT PROPOSAL” as the Subject line.

E-mail submissions to:

John Wilczynski

America Makes Deputy Director – Technology Development

National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining

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

America Makes Project Call award announcement will occur on Friday, June 12, 2015. The anticipated start date of the second set of projects is July 2015.

For more information, visit: www.americamakes.us/component/k2/item/696-america-makes-announces-project-call

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