America Makes Announces Awardee of Project Call to Support the Continued Technological Advantage of the U.S. Air Force

July 23, 2020 | Categories: America Makes News

Goal is to Innovate High-precision Optical Components Using Additive Manufacturing

Youngstown, Ohio — July 23, 2020. As the nation’s leading collaborative partner in additive technology research, discovery, and innovation, America Makes proudly announces the awardee of its Additive for eXtreme Improvement in Optical Mounts (AXIOM) Project Call worth $841K in total funding to support the continued technological advantage of the U.S. Air Force (USAF).

Subject to the finalization of all contractual details and requirements, the selected America Makes AXIOM Project Call Awardee is the Raytheon Technologies (RTX) project team for its submission titled, Topology Optimized Reflective Optics (TORO).

The objective of the AXIOM Project Call is to innovate solutions that enhance the readiness of high-precision optical components used in sensors, space systems, and other applications by developing and demonstrating novel designs enabled by additive manufacturing (AM).

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division, is funding the AXIOM Project. AFRL and the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), which manages America Makes, are targeting to make available approximately $560K with at least $281K in matching cost-share funds for total funding worth $841K.

“The AXIOM Project Call submissions were all very good and in line with our expectations given the complexity and various technical challenges put forth,” said America Makes Executive Director John Wilczynski. “Altogether, the submissions offered a range of unique and promising solutions. The awarded RTX-led proposal details an approach that includes numerous tasks, addressing the relevant technological gaps for the design and production of additively manufactured optical mounts. For the USAF, our membership community, and the broader supply chain, the anticipated outcomes of the RTX effort will be very transformative and valuable. We congratulate RTX and its team.”

Led by RTX, the project team includes Raytheon Intelligence and Space (RIS), Raytheon Missiles and Defense (RMD), and Raytheon Technologies Research Center (RTRC), in conjunction with nTopology, and Wichita State University–National Institute for Aviation Research (WSU-NIAR),  seeks to advance strategic capabilities in optics through the development of the TORO program. By moving the industrial base from known conventional designs with exotic materials to exotic designs made possible by improvements in software workflows with conventional AM materials, TORO will use more accessible and less toxic materials in a laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) system to produce designs optimized for both performance and manufacturing.

The expected AM advances under the TORO program include reduced lead times as compared to conventional manufacturing and improved topology optimization (TO) and design for additive manufacturing (DFAM) that enable novel, requirements-driven capabilities for designing optimal optical mounts and components.

“The RTX TORO submission was a well-thought out effort,” said America Makes Technology Director Brandon Ribic, Ph.D. “We not only look forward to getting the project underway, but also continuing the discussion of how to best leverage additive manufacturing technologies for the benefit of those who rely on these complex components.”

The start date of the project is August 2020.

For more information on the AXIOM Project Call or how to become an America Makes member, please visit the America Makes Web site at


About America Makes

Driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), America Makes is the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. As the national accelerator for additive manufacturing (AM) based in Youngstown, Ohio, America Makes is the nation’s leading and collaborative partner in AM and 3DP technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation. Comprised of member organizations from industry, academia, government, non-government agencies, and workforce and economic development resources, the America Makes membership community is working together to innovate and accelerate AM to increase our nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness. America Makes is the first of eight Manufacturing Innovation Institutes established and program managed by the U.S. Department of Defense as public-private partnerships. America Makes is also a member of the Manufacturing USA® network, which seeks to secure U.S. global leadership in advanced manufacturing. For more information about America Makes, visit and follow @AmericaMakes on Twitter.


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—to 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 3D printing (3DP), America Makes—the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. For additional information, visit the NCDMM at and follow @NCDMMnews on Twitter.

About Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

AFRL leads the discovery, development and delivery of warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace forces. AFRL is headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, home to the Wright brothers and recognized as the birth place of aviation. AFRL is comprised of Technology Directorates, Functional Directorates, 711th Human Performance Wing and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. For more information about AFRL, visit

About AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate

Materials and Manufacturing Directorate develops materials, processes, and advanced manufacturing technologies for aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, rockets, and ground-based systems and their structural, electronic and optical components. Air Force product centers, logistic centers, and operating commands rely on the directorate’s expertise in materials, nondestructive inspection, systems support, and advanced manufacturing methods to solve system, expeditionary deployment, and operational challenges.

About Raytheon Technologies Corporation

Raytheon Technologies (RTX) is an aerospace and defense company that provides advanced systems and services for commercial, military, and government customers worldwide. With 195,000 employees and four industry-leading businesses―Collins Aerospace Systems, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon Intelligence & Space and Raytheon Missiles & Defense―the company delivers solutions that push the boundaries in avionics, cybersecurity, directed energy, electric propulsion, hypersonics, and quantum physics. The company, formed in 2020 through the combination of Raytheon Company and the United Technologies Corporation aerospace businesses, is headquartered in Waltham, Mass. For more information, visit