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).
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.
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.
All the technical requirements of the AXIOM Project Call are detailed fully in the Request for Proposal (RFP) document.
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.
The AXIOM Project Call award notification will occur by Friday, June 19, 2020 with an anticipated project start date of August 2020.
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. Information on how to join America Makes is available on the membership page. (Note: The foreign membership approval process requires a minimum of three weeks to complete.)
|Project Call Announcement and Posting||05/05/2020|
|Project Call Kick-off Webinar||05/12/2020|
|Questions from Proposers about Scope or Approach Due||05/20/2020|
|Responses to Proposers about Scope or Approach Due
(All questions and responses will be shared with all proposers on this page.)
|Lead Proposer must be America Makes member||06/05/2020|
|Fully Executed NDA with NCDMM
(Only if proposal contains proprietary information.)
|Full Project Proposal Submission Due Date||06/08/2020|
|Anticipated Decision and Selection of Projects||06/18/2020|
|Anticipated Date to have ALL Projects on Contract||08/01/2020|
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The primary focus of the project call is intended to address improvement in optical mounts. Lenses and mirrors (and others) are critical pieces of optical components and can be considered in-scope. Offerer should closely consider how their proposed solution will address performance requirements of the baseline optical component being targeted. Representative performance requirements are listed in the RFP, though these are likely not the only factors relevant to technical and business case feasibility. In all proposals, offerers should consider the risk of their technical approach and demonstrate realistic analysis of the business case with demonstrations at relevant TRL/MRLs 3-7.
Costs that can be considered as cost share: material, labor hours, overhead, equipment, building, land purchase, tuition, and software. This will be tracked through cost share forms submitted monthly to America Makes from the lead member of the project team, sub contractors will submit to the lead. What can not be considered for cost share: pProposal costs, entertainment, alcohol, or gifts.
Yes, teams may submit more than one project proposal.
Questions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions will be posted to the America Makes website according to the RFP schedule. Questions asked after the scheduled Q&A deadline will not be addressed.
Yes, however all foreign-owned companies must apply and be approved for foreign membership prior to proposal submission and federal dollars can not be spent outside of the United States. It is the Lead team’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable export control laws and regulations.
YES, the proposals will only be reviewed by the evaluation team and each team member signs a confidentiality agreement.
The IP is owned by the organization that developed the IP, however that IP is subject to the rules outlined in the membership agreement.
No, there is not a requirement for member level. It is only required that you are a member of America Makes by 6/5/2020.
No, Proposers are responsible for building their own project teams. This should be done through attending America Makes events like TRX and MMX and networking. Another great way to build teams is to get involved with working groups.
The project call states, “Offerors are encouraged to propose approaches to designing and manufacturing optical components…” It is anticipated that this may include demonstration of material performance and system level performance. Validation of improvements against a commercial off the shelf design/material (baseline) is critical and may limit the extent of testing possible within the allotted period of performance and funding. We encourage innovative approaches to addressing this challenging application. Offers should address the relevance, risks, and merits of their approach.
No, the program is not geared towards a specific material type.
This should be answered by the proposal team in their response. The project call does not specify an AM process. Validation of improvements against a commercial off the shelf design/material (baseline) is critical, so a clear understanding of the application and relevant requirements is very important. Submissions should explain the merits of the AM process and how performance, cost, and lead time benefits will be successfully demonstrated and associated risks appropriately managed. Project teams should also be sure that what is proposed is practical within the available period of performance and available funds.
A material which does not introduce acquisition lead time or limited source risks (or is accessible) but may not be commonly used in AM processes (or otherwise is exotic to AM processing).
Proposals will not be shared outside of AFRL/ America Makes. If proposals include proprietary information and an NDA is required a copy of NCDMMs standard NDA agreement is available in the resources section of the AXIOM project call page under NCDMM NDA Agreement. The NDA can be signed and sent to the contractual Point of contact in the project call for completion.
Optical components in weapons and surveillance systems are specifically mentioned in the project call. We are unable to provide application specific details but would encourage individuals to address this risk through literature searches or collaboration with a relatively more familiar organization.
It is incumbent upon teams to conduct this research for themselves and put forward that example and analysis. We do not wish to limit potential responses with specific examples.
No, as part of the proposal writing process teams will have to research this or address this through strategic collaboration in drafting a relevant and credible response.
Yes, proprietary information can be removed from results/ reports after sharing with AFRL and before uploading to the digital storefront. However, the intent of the funding is to benefit the membership so submitters should consider that as part of their responses.
Some of the most relevant performance criteria are outlined in the project call. Please use those as guidance to formulating your proposed relevant validation testing. It is critical that teams clearly define the application and outline a means to substantiating improvement versus a commercial off the shelf solution. It is envisioned that factors such as weight, CTE, stiffness, cost, and lead time are most important to the project call stakeholders. The testing proposed by each team should clearly outline how the necessary performance requirements will be addressed for a given optical mount application.
That will depend upon the application chosen by the project team. We encourage teams to establish a relevant test matrix and identify the appropriate number of corresponding test specimens (and/ or articles) to validate their approach relative to a commercial of the shelf solution.
The type of mount should be defined by the proposal team it is important that the necessary testing material and testing coupon component be clearly explained and relevant to successfully validating an AM solution defined. While optically transparent and mirror optical mounts are under consideration, we are most interested in mirror optical mounts.