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America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute announced the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) as the awardee of a Directed Project Opportunity from the Institute. The Directed Project Opportunity focuses on Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-cost Sustainment and is funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division.

Driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), America Makes will award $8 million in AFRL funding under the Institute’s new Cooperative Agreement (CA) with AFRL toward the project with $2.87 million in matching cost share from the award project team for total funding worth $10.87 million.

UDRI was initially notified as the awardee at a special, America Makes members-only event held in April on the campus of the University of Dayton where the entire project team, along with America Makes personnel and Air Force officials, gathered for the award of this important AFRL research.

“On behalf of all of us at America Makes, we congratulate UDRI, YSU, and their team on the Directed Project Opportunity Award,” said America Makes Director of Operations Rob Gorham. “This project is significant on a number of levels. It marks the first funded project under our new, five-year Cooperative Agreement with AFRL. It is also an important area of research not only for the Air Force, but for the entire military and manufacturing community as well. Lastly, the impact of this project on the Northeast Ohio region with the strong showing from Ohio-based companies is tremendous, underscoring the manufacturing innovation coming out of the Youngstown and Mahoning Valley region. We are very excited to get this effort underway.”

The UDRI-led project team is comprised of Ohio-based organizations, including YSU, Bastech Inc., Case Western Reserve University, Deloitte Services, DRT Mfg. Co., GE Aviation, Humtown Products, M-7 Technologies, Slice Manufacturing Studios, and Youngstown Business Incubator along with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) and AFRL out of Dayton and the 910th Airlift Wing out of Youngstown. Also joining the Ohio-based project team are other additive manufacturing leaders, including 3D Systems Corporation, American Foundry Society, Boeing Company, Honeywell International Inc., Lockheed Martin, the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, Optomec, Pennsylvania State University, Raytheon, and the University of Northern Iowa.

The project team will be working directly with AF officials from its three Air Logistics Complexes located at Robins Air Force Base (AFB) in Georgia, Hill AFB in Utah, and Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, in conjunction with other Air Force units and other Department of Defense bases and depots.

The object of this Direct Project Opportunity is to enhance and improve Air Force sustainment operations through the development, demonstration, and transition of additive manufacturing and related advanced manufacturing technologies. The program is aimed at improving efficiency of the factory and/or Air Force Air Logistics Complexes for rapid part replacement for legacy and other aircraft.

“This Directed Project Opportunity represents the largest additive manufacturing focused effort on sustainment, maintenance, and repair technologies ever organized to date,” said America Makes Deputy Director of Technology Development John Wilczynski. “Maintaining its fleet in a cost-efficient manner using advanced manufacturing technologies, including additive manufacturing, is critical to the strategic readiness of the Air Force today and into the future. Through its outlined approach combined with the diverse project team assembled and led by UDRI, a research leader in its own right, the Institute is highly optimistic that the resulting outcome will successfully address the Air Force’s sustainment needs and possibly extend beyond the Air Force to other military branches.”

Currently, sustainment poses a number of challenges to keeping aerospace systems across all AF legacy aircraft ready and available. With this project, the Air Force is specifically interested in exploring the benefits of additive manufacturing, along with related advanced manufacturing technologies like reverse engineering tools, scanners, CAD systems, non-destructive evaluation (NDE) systems, and in what capacity they can lend themselves in solving sustainment-related challenges. The project will baseline the use of additive manufacturing in the sustainment community, especially for indirect, tooling-type applications; assess best practices for the use of additive manufacturing for sustainment; recommend transition of best practices to the Air Force Air Complexes; and demonstrate the benefits that can be leveraged by using an additive manufacturing-based approach.

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