Project to Develop an Open Source, Multi-Laser Manufacturing Research Platform
Youngstown, Ohio — December 18, 2018. America Makes is proud to announce the awardee of a Directed Project Opportunity on the acceleration of large scale additive manufacturing (ALSAM) 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 awarded $2.1M in AFRL funding with at least $525K in matching funds from the awarded project team for total funding worth roughly $2.6M.
Subject to the finalization of all contractual details and requirements, the selected America Makes ALSAM Directed Project Opportunity Awardee is GE Global Research, in conjunction with the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), and GE Additive.
“America Makes and AFRL are pleased to announce GE Global Research as the ALSAM Directed Project Opportunity awardee,” said Rob Gorham, America Makes Executive Director. “We are grateful for the continued support and funding from AFRL and extend our congratulations to the GE Global Research team. We believe that GE Global Research, ARL at Penn State, and GE Additive outlined the best approach to developing an open source, multi-laser manufacturing machine and research platform. We look forward to the ALSAM project getting underway and the anticipated, game-changing outcomes that will address the immediate and critical needs within the U.S. Air Force and defense industry.”
The objective of the ALSAM Directed Project Opportunity is to overcome known and distinct shortcomings of Selective Laser Melting (SLM) additive manufacturing (AM) that are limiting the wider adoption of the technology for production. The focus of the ALSAM Directed Project is of particular interest to AFRL as the value of SLM technology is great for producing 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. 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.
GE Global Research and its team will integrate the results of three previous America Makes Programs into a commercially-available Powder Bed Fusion Additive Manufacturing (PBFAM) machine and deliver the machine to America Makes. The team will work in coordination with a parallel DoD-funded project at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Optimized Multi-Beam Approach for Powder Bed Fusion, for critical reviews of the machine and experimentation. By building upon the work of these previous America Makes Programs and parallel LLNL DoD project, GE Global Research anticipates that the key deliverable of the Directed Project Opportunity, the ALSAM Platform, will lead to production efficiency and scalability for the identification of best practices for scan speed, hatch spacing, power, and stitching, among numerous other process parameters. The ALSAM Platform will also be a flexible resource in that it will be controlled with open-source software for both scanpath generation and machine control, enabling tailored thermal management experiments, which will prove useful for difficult-to-weld alloys.
Additionally, the deployment of an ALSAM Platform will demonstrate the technology in a production-representative environment, advancing the Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) from a MRL6 of the open system to MRL7. The availability of the open machine will enable subsequent research programs aimed at achieving MRL8 by identifying specific process parameters, multi-laser strategies, feedback strategies, and sensors to be validated prior to moving to a pilot line.
“With the award of the America Makes ALSAM Directed Project to GE Global Research and its partners, as an industry, we are much closer toward having the mainstream ability to produce large scale components through multi-laser interaction,” said John Wilczynski, America Makes Technology Director. “As a result, we will be able to meet the needs of not only the U.S. Air Force and other military branches, but also the energy and automotive industries as well.”
The anticipated start date of the project is January 2019.
For more information on the ASLAM Directed Project or how to become an America Makes member, please visit the America Makes Web site at https://americamakes.us.
About America Makes
America Makes is the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. As the national accelerator for additive manufacturing (AM), America Makes is the nation’s leading and collaborative partner in AM and 3DP technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation. Structured as a public-private partnership with member organizations from industry, academia, government, non-government agencies, and workforce and economic development resources, we are working together to innovate and accelerate AM to increase our nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness. Based in Youngstown, Ohio, America Makes is the first Institute within the Manufacturing USA infrastructure and is driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). For more information about America Makes, visit americamakes.us.
NCDMM delivers innovative and collaborative manufacturing solutions that enhance our nation’s workforce and economic competitiveness. NCDMM has extensive knowledge and depth in manufacturing areas—both commercial and defense—continually innovate, improve, and advance manufacturing technologies and methodologies. Our experienced team specializes in identifying the needs, the players, the technologies, and processes to attain optimal solutions for our customers. We connect the dots. That’s the NCDMM methodology. NCDMM also manages the national accelerator for additive manufacturing (AM) and 3DP printing (3DP), America Makes and the V4 Institute. For additional information, visit the NCDMM at ncdmm.org.
About GE Global Research
GE Global Research is GE’s innovation powerhouse where research meets reality. We are a world-class team of 1,000+ scientific, engineering and marketing minds (600+ PhDs), working at the intersection of physics and markets, physical and digital technologies, and across a broad set of industries to deliver world-changing innovations and capabilities for our customers. geglobalresearch.com.
About GE Additive
GE Additive is part of GE (NYSE: GE) – the world’s Digital Industrial Company, transforming industry with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive and predictive. GE Additive includes additive machine providers Concept Laser and Arcam EBM; along with additive material provider AP&C. As a notable user of additive technologies, GE recognizes the value and potential it brings to modern design and manufacturing. ge.com/additive.
GE (NYSE:GE) drives the world forward by tackling its biggest challenges. By combining world-class engineering with software and analytics, GE helps the world work more efficiently, reliably, and safely. For more than 125 years, GE has invented the future of industry, and today it leads new paradigms in additive manufacturing, materials science, and data analytics. GE people are global, diverse and dedicated, operating with the highest integrity and passion to fulfill GE’s mission and deliver for our customers. ge.com.
About the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)
Established at Penn State in 1945, ARL, which reports to the Office of the Vice President for Research, is the largest research unit at Penn State. ARL at Penn State is one of fourteen Department of Defense (DoD) University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) laboratories that have long-term strategic relationships with the DoD and are considered trusted agents. These affiliated research centers provide essential research capabilities, develop new technology for national security applications, and provide unbiased technical advice to the DoD and other federal agencies. It employs a staff of about 1,300 including research faculty, engineers, staff and students. ARL has made important contributions to the university’s educational mission by providing approximately 250 students annually with valuable work experience, helping to encourage and shape the students’ careers in science and engineering. For more information, visit arl.psu.edu.