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

May 05, 2020 | Categories: America Makes News

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

Youngstown, Ohio — May 5, 2020. As the nation’s leading collaborative partner in additive and 3D printing technology research, discovery, and innovation, America Makes proudly announces its next Project Call to support the continued technological advantage of the U.S. Air Force (USAF).

The Additive for eXtreme Improvement in Optical Mounts (AXIOM) Project Call seeks innovative solutions to enhance 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).

“This is a tremendous opportunity for America Makes to support key initiatives and critical capabilities as outlined in the USAF’s Science and Technology Strategy, a 10-year blueprint to maintaining its strategic and operational advantages,” said America Makes Executive Director John Wilczynski. “The AXIOM Project Call will enable the USAF to continue to leverage disruptive innovations, remain ahead of rapidly developing state and military competitors, and contribute to our nation’s defense security.”

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division, is funding the AXIOM Project Call. AFRL and the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), which manages America Makes, are targeting to make available approximately $560K to fund one award with at least $280K in matching cost-share funds from the awarded project team for total funding worth $840K.

As with all America Makes project calls, the technical requirements of the AXIOM Project Call directly relate to the America Makes Technology Roadmap, which identifies measurable and meaningful challenges that, when met, promote inquiry, knowledge-sharing, and technical advancements across the AM industry. The roadmap also identifies concepts that are most suitable to be researched within the public-private partnership model versus private industry projects. AXIOM aligns to multiple focus areas of the Technology Roadmap, including Design, Material, and Value Chain swimlanes.

Currently, optical components require a challenging combination of weight, stiffness, coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), thermal management, and dimensional tolerances. To meet these requirements, designs often include geometric features, manufacturing methods, and materials that can increase cost and lead time and create supply chain vulnerabilities due to the limited set of approved material sources. The project call seeks to mitigate these risks through innovative approaches, which leverage AM in conjunction with novel designs or materials to demonstrate equivalence and reliability when compared to a commercial off-the-shelf product.

“The AXIOM Project Call represents an incredible opportunity to advance both AM design and materials technologies given the geometric complexity and performance requirements of high-precision optical components,” said America Makes Technology Director Brandon Ribic, Ph.D. “The America Makes membership community is well positioned to deliver an innovative additively manufactured alternative. As a result, the USAF stands to attain significant gains in technological advancement, readiness, performance, reliability, lifespan, and production lead times.”

** AXIOM Project Call Information **

Technical Requirements

All the technical requirements of the AXIOM Project Call are detailed fully in the Request for Proposal (RFP) document available on the America Makes Web site.


Domestic and foreign members who are in good standing with America Makes are eligible to participate. Only the lead proposer must be a member of America Makes. Participants of the lead proposer’s team may be made up of America Makes members and non-members.

If the lead proposing organization is not currently an America Makes member, the organization must become one by Friday, June 5, 2020. To join, visit


America Makes will convene a Project Call Kick-off Webinar on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) to review all of the criteria. Immediately following the conclusion of the Webinar, there will be a brief Q&A session. Answers to the questions posed during the Webinar along with additional questions submitted by proposers about scope and approach will be posted to the Website by Friday, May 22.

Project Call Proposal Process

Given the specific focus of the AXIOM Project Call, proposers will proceed directly to developing and submitting a full proposal. Proposal teams will have approximately four weeks to submit their full proposals to America Makes.


Proposals are due no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, June 8, 2020. Submissions received after the deadline will not be considered.

Submissions must be e-mailed to with “America Makes AXIOM PROJECT PROPOSAL” as the subject line. All submitted proposals will be acknowledged with a return e-mail confirmation from NCDMM.

Award Notification

The AXIOM Project Call award notification will occur by Friday, June 19, 2020. The anticipated 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


America Makes Media Contact:
Andrew Resnick
(330) 576-9292