America Makes proudly announces the first of two Directed Project Opportunities made available to its members, funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division. The first Directed Project Opportunity focuses on the acceleration of large scale additive manufacturing (ALSAM) with the objective of overcoming known and distinct shortcomings of Selective Laser Melting (SLM) additive manufacturing (AM) that are limiting the wider adoption of the technology for production.
“Today’s announcement of two Directed Project Opportunities is incredibly significant, underscoring how America Makes with the ongoing support of and funding from AFRL is responding to critical needs within the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and defense industry at large by leveraging our membership community to effectuate a solution,” said Rob Gorham, America Makes Executive Director. “With the goal of developing an open source, multi-laser manufacturing research platform, we anticipate the outcome of the ALSAM Directed Project Opportunity to have a far-reaching impact beyond the immediate needs of the USAF and defense industry into a multitude of industries.”
Driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), America Makes and AFRL are targeting to make available approximately $2.1M to fund a single award with at least $525K in matching funds from the awarded project teams for total funding worth roughly $2.6M. With the addition of this Project Call, America Makes will soon have a portfolio of more than $120M in public and private funds invested in advancing the adoption of AM in the United States.
As with all America Makes project calls, the technical requirements of the ALSAM Directed Project Opportunity directly relate to the America Makes Technology Roadmap, which identifies measurable and meaningful challenges that, when met, promote inquiry, knowledge-sharing, and technical advancements across the AM industry. ALSAM aligns to the Process Temperature Gradient Control “critical technology element” (CTE) from the Process “swim lane” of the Technology Roadmap, which focuses on the development of technologies to enable multi-power, multi-laser, multi-pass build path systems that allow improved time-variant control of the melt/sinter and solidification processes.
In addition, this Directed Project Opportunity also supports the Integrated Department of Defense (DoD) AM Roadmap, which America Makes facilitated the development of in 2016 in order to provide a foundation and framework for focusing desired collaboration and coordination of the DoD’s activities in AM to systematically and efficiently mature the technology for multiple DoD applications. The ALSAM opportunity is specifically aligned to the following requirements from the Integrated DoD AM Roadmap:
- Develop Open Architecture Equipment - Advance hardware/software with open interfaces, allowing for monitoring and control of build processes.
- Develop Capabilities for Larger Part Processing - Increase capabilities for production of large parts, including continuous build and multi-laser equipment, engaging with industry where appropriate.
The focus of the ALSAM Directed Project is of particular interest to AFRL as the value of SLM technology is great as it can produce defense components with complex shapes made from a multitude of alloys, featuring high mechanical properties and fine microstructures. However, the small build volumes and lengthy production times of single laser SLM machines are hindering their use. While single-laser SLM machines are entering the market with increased build volumes, a strategy for developing multi-laser solutions is needed.
Through the ALSAM Directed Project, AFRL specifically seeks an open source, multi-laser manufacturing research platform to assist in the identification of best practices and quantify part production efficiency that can be realized with multi-laser SLM machines. Additionally, AFRL requires a flexible platform to conduct manufacturing relevant, controlled experiments into multi- or many laser approaches, offering possible quality improvements for challenging alloys through tailored thermal management approaches.
“There’s no question that understanding multi-laser interaction will be a crucial step toward the ability to produce large scale components, which continues to be a need voiced loudly by industry, specifically the energy, defense, and automotive sectors,” said John Wilczynski, America Makes Technology Director. “The system will be a vital asset for America Makes members interested in multi-laser research.”
ALSAM Technical Requirements
All the technical requirements of the ASLAM Directed Project are detailed fully in the Request for Proposal (RFP) document.
Additionally, interested proposal teams are encouraged to review and reference the following America Makes project, which is available in the America Makes Digital Storefront, as helpful source material prior to submitting a proposal.
4039 - Development and Demonstration of Open-Source Protocols for Powder-Bed Fusion Additive Manufacturing (PBFAM)
Project Call Proposal Process
For the ALSAM Directed Project only, America Makes will use a single-step proposal process. Given the specific focus of this Directed Project, proposers will proceed directly to the Proposal phase, developing a full proposal as in previous project calls.
Proposal teams will have approximately 10 weeks to submit their full proposals to America Makes, which are due on Friday, September 14, 2018.
To be eligible for the America Makes Directed Project Opportunity, a lead proposer must be an America Makes member by Friday, September 14, 2018. Participants of the lead proposer’s team may be made up of America Makes members and non-members.
All Project Proposals are due no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, September 28, 2018. Submissions received after the deadline will not be considered.
Submissions must be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with “America Makes ALSAM PROJECT PROPOSAL” as the Subject line. All Project Proposals submissions will be acknowledged with a return e-mail confirmation from NCDMM.
The America Makes ALSAM Directed Project award announcement will occur by October 2018. The anticipated start date of the projects is December 2018.