America Makes, a research leader in the field of additive manufacturing technology, has announced the project call for Phase 3 of its ‘Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-Cost Sustainment’ (MAMLS) program.

The third phase of the program will see projects carried out within three different topics which require a maximum investment of $5.7m, as the organisation looks to harness additive manufacturing to assist the Air Force community. The topics include ‘Feature-based Qualification using Directed Energy Deposition (DED)’; ‘Understanding Manufacturing Realities of AM’; and ‘Emerging Process Technology for Low Criticality Part Families.'

Amercia Makes MAMLS-shield

Findings from these projects, America Makes hopes, will improve efficiency of the factory and/ or Air Force Logistics Complexes for rapid part placement for aircraft. Funding will come from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division, with influence from the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). America Makes wants to address ‘key challenges’ to the adoption of AM for maintenance, sustainment, and logistics operations within the Department of Defense, previously identified in Phases 1&2 of the MAMLS program. These challenges concern material, process, and post processing barriers which are said to be holding back AM, and also impacting the manufacture of applications required by the Air Force sustainment community.

America Makes will put forward $5.7m, but will also be looking for at $2.8m from the collaborating partner to take the total amount to around $8.5m. The research organisation believes the program and the projects within can have a big impact in the Air Force and on the adoption and application of additive manufacturing.

“[This] Project Call announcement marks a significant milestone for delivering additive manufacturing technology demonstrations and solutions that can elevate the entire sustainment community’s understanding and use of additive manufacturing,” said Rob Gorham, America Makes Executive Director. “Phase 3 of MAMLS will improve rapid part replacement/ maintenance for legacy aircraft, enable on-demand replacement of critically damaged or obsolete components, and reduce the cost and lead time to fabricate replacement components. This is an effort with the potential to resolve the existing challenges that are hindrances to maintaining the strategic readiness of the Air Force, as well as the entire military, today and well into the future.”

America Makes is looking to collaborate on projects in three topic areas. Topic Area 1 has been conceptualised to try and encourage the application of feature-based qualification (FBQ) approaches to the production of larger, 3D printed aerospace parts, utilising DED techniques to demonstrate the utility of the FBQ approach and identify implementation challenges and risk reduction or alternative qualification methods. Topic Area 2 will look to quantify the impact of defects on the mechanical performance of additively manufactured materials. Of particular interest are the material properties that are sensitive to statistical extremes, and the evaluation of real flaws, as well as exploring which post-processing approaches improve mechanical performance. Finally, Topic 3 will evaluate the ability of emerging AM process technologies to supply low criticality parts that can sufficiently fulfil the required needs, and the degree to which these solutions extend to parts families of similar size, shape, criticality and function.

The America Makes Project Call Proposal Process is a multi-step process. Project concepts will need to be submitted by January 3rd, 2018, which will then be reviewed by America Makes. If concepts pass the down-select process, applicants will have until February 23rd to put together a proposal. To be eligible, a lead proposer must commit to being an America Makes member by February 9th, 2018. Successful applicants will be notified by April, with projects commencing in June.

Source:  TCT Magazine