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NAMII selects awardees of initial call for additive manufacturing applied research

NAMII, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, awarded on August 2012 (earlier post), and driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), announced the awardees of its initial call for additive manufacturing (AM) applied research and development projects from NAMII members. NAMII will provide $4.5 million in funding toward these projects with the matching cost share from the awarded project teams totaling $5 million.

Additive manufacturing uses a digital model to construct objects in layers. The method can create complex 3-D shapes and produces far less scrap than conventional methods. The seven selected projects span a variety of metals and polymeric additive manufacturing processes and materials with near-term technical achievements impacting multiple key markets within a few months.

They also represent teaming by NAMII members with more than 30 different participating organizations, including eight universities and 25 industry partners from both small and large businesses. Subject to the finalization of all contractual details and requirements, the approved NAMII projects are as follows:

  • “Maturation of Fused Depositing Modeling (FDM) Component Manufacturing”, Rapid Prototype + Manufacturing LLC (RP+M). Led by small business part producer, RP+M, in partnership with equipment manufacturers and large industry system integrators and the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), this project will provide the community with a deeper understanding of the properties and opportunities of the high-temperature polymer, ULTEM 9085. Some of the key outcomes from this project include a design guide; critical materials and processing data; and machine, material, part and process certification.

  • “Qualification of Additive Manufacturing Processes and Procedures for Repurposing and Rejuvenation of Tooling”, Case Western Reserve University. Led by Case Western Reserve University, in partnership with several additive manufacturers, die casters, computer modelers, and the North American Die Casting Association, this project will develop, evaluate, and qualify methods for repairing and repurposing tools and dies.

    Die casting tools are very expensive—sometimes exceeding $1 million each—and require long lead times to manufacture. The ability to repair and repurpose tools and dies can save energy and costs, and reduce lead time by extending tool life through use of the additive manufacturing techniques developed by this team.

  • “Sparse-Build Rapid Tooling by Fused Depositing Modeling (FDM) for Composite Manufacturing and Hydroforming”, Missouri University of Science and Technology. Missouri S&T and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems will co-lead projects that will focus on fused deposition modeling (FDM), a commercially successful process of additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping. The Robert C. Byrd Institute’s Composite Center of Excellence, Stratasys Inc. and The Boeing Co. are also involved in the projects.

  • Fused Depositing Modeling (FDM) for Complex Composites Tooling”, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. Two projects focusing on fused depositing modeling (FDM) are to be co-led developed in close collaboration by Missouri University of Science and Technology and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, in partnership with other small and large companies and the Robert C. Byrd Institute’s Composite Center of Excellence. These projects address a key near-term opportunity for additive manufacturing: the ability to rapidly and cost-effectively produce tooling for composite manufacturing.

    Polymer composite tools often involve expensive, complex machined, metallic structures that can take months to manufacture. Recent developments with high-temperature polymeric tooling, such as the ULTEM 9085 material, show great promise for low-cost, energy-saving tooling options for the polymer composites industry. In addition, these projects will explore the use of sparse-build tools, minimizing material use for the needs of the composite process. Composites are high-strength materials that are used in a wide range of industries and can be used for lightweighting, a key strategy for reducing energy use.

  • “Maturation of High-Temperature Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) Technologies and Infrastructure”, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. Led by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, in partnership with several industry team members, this project will develop a selective laser sintering (SLS) process for a lower-cost, high-temperature thermoplastic for making air and space vehicle components and other commercial applications. In addition, recyclability and reuse of materials will also be explored to maximize cost savings and promote sustainability.

  • “Thermal Imaging for Process Monitoring and Control of Additive Manufacturing”, Penn State University Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP 3D). Led by Penn State University, in partnership with several industry and university team members, this project will expand the use of thermal imaging for process monitoring and control of electron beam direct manufacturing (EBDM) and laser engineered net shaping (LENS) additive manufacturing processes. Improvements to the EBDM and LENS systems will enable 3D visualization of the measured global temperature field and real-time control of electron beam or laser power levels based on thermal image characteristics. These outcomes will enable the community to have greater confidence on part properties and quality using these technologies.

  • “Rapid Qualification Methods for Powder Bed Direct Metal Additive Manufacturing Processes”, Case Western Reserve University. Led by Case Western Reserve University, in partnership with leading aerospace industry companies and other industry and university team members, this project will improve the industry’s ability to understand and control microstructure and mechanical properties across EOS Laser Sintering and Arcam Electron Beam Melting (EBM) powder bed processes.

    Process-based cost modeling with variable production volumes will also be delivered, providing the community with valuable cost estimates for new product lines. The outcomes from this project will deliver much needed information to qualify these production processes for use across many industries.

The NAMII Project Call, which was released on November 27, 2012, at the Defense Manufacturing Conference (DMC) in Orlando, Fla., was focused on three technical topic areas:

  • Materials Understanding and Performance;
  • Qualification and Certification; and
  • Process Capability and Characterization/Process Control.

Proposals submitted to NAMII were to address one or more technical topic areas, but had to address all evaluation criteria.

Additionally, since one of NAMII’s key tenets as established by NCDMM is to promote and provide educational outreach and workforce development training, plans for these components had to be integrated into project proposals as well. For example, additive manufacturing curricula will be developed based on project results for high school pre-engineering courses, as well as community college, undergraduate, and graduate university classes.

NAMII will officially announce its next project call at the RAPID 2013 Conference and Exposition on 10-13 June in Pittsburgh, Pa. This next project call will reflect further refined and key strategic topic areas necessary for NAMII to meet the needs of industry partners and enable the widespread adoption of additive manufacturing technologies and innovations.


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