America Makes Announces Directed Project Opportunity on Advancing Additive Manufacturing Post-Processing Techniques

July 18, 2018 | Categories: America Makes News

Goal is to Improve Process Control for Qualifying Complex Parts and Reduce Costs

Youngstown, Ohio — July 18, 2018. America Makes proudly announces the second of two Directed Project Opportunities made available today to its members, funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division. The second Directed Project Opportunity focuses on advancing additive manufacturing (AM) post-processing techniques (AAPT) with the objective of gaining a better understanding of the available techniques in order to achieve qualified parts and certified processes, as well as reduce costs.

“On behalf of all of us at America Makes and AFRL, we are excited to be announcing two Directed Project Opportunities, both of which we believe will play an integral role in accelerating the adoption of Selective Laser Melting additive technologies in particular,” said Rob Gorham, America Makes Executive Director. “With the second Directed Project Opportunity concentrating on the advancement of post-processing techniques, and the first Directed Project Opportunity targeting a multi-laser open platform, we are confident that the industry impact of these two R&D projects will be substantial and widespread.”

Driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), America Makes and AFRL are targeting to make available approximately $1.6M to fund two awards with at least $800K in matching funds from the awarded project teams for total funding worth roughly $2.4M. With the addition of this Project Call, America Makes will soon have a portfolio of more than $120M in public and private funds invested in advancing the adoption of AM in the United States.

As with all America Makes project calls, the technical requirements of the AAPT Directed Project Opportunity directly relates 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. AAPT aligns to the Additive Manufacturing Tech Data Packages “critical technology element” (CTE) from the from the Material “swim lane” of the Technology Roadmap, which focuses on the development of the key AM parameters to be controlled during the processing and post-processing of a given material/process family that is adequate to achieve consistent mechanical properties independent of the machine, supplier, and/or material source.

The focus of the AAPT Directed Project is of particular interest to AFRL as it seeks to further expand the use of Selective Laser Melting (SLM) for critical parts. However, the risk of employing AM technologies like SLM derives from the cost and uncertainty imposed by some of the pre- and post- processing steps that occur ‘outside the box’ of the AM machine remains a major concern and prohibitive for wider adoption. The current lack of a consensus of best practices for material handling and post-processing leads to high variability and massive qualification challenges, invariably leading to higher costs to adopt and employ AM technologies.

Through the AAPT Directed Project, AFRL specifically seeks to address two main issues. First, quantify the mechanical performance debit of using as built SLM surfaces to fabricate high-temperature nickel super alloy canonical features, such as thin walls and narrow flow channels. Second, quantify the effectiveness of Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) when producing high-temperature nickel super alloy canonical features, such as thin walls and narrow flow channels.

“Today, post-processing continues to be one of the largest costs associated with additive manufacturing,” said John Wilczynski, America Makes Technology Director. “While there are a multitude of post-processing techniques available, many unknowns about them still exist. This effort promises to identify and discern the unknowns of heat treatments thus improving post-processing techniques and reducing their costs, which will ultimately help to increase the adoption of additive technologies overall.”

AAPT Technical Requirements

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


America Makes will convene a Project Call Kick-off Webinar on Wednesday, July 25, 2018, at 2:30 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.

Project Call Proposal Process

For the AAPT Directed Project, proposers will follow a two-phase proposal process:

Phase 1 (Concept Phase)

Proposers are required to first fill out a Project Concept form, summarizing their team’s high-level technical approach and technology transition requirements. Proposal teams have 30 days to prepare the Project Concept form, which is due no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Friday, August 24, 2018. Submissions after the deadline will not be considered. Proposers do not have to be an America Makes member at this phase to submit a Project Concept form.

Phase 2 (Proposal Phase)

America Makes will then review the Project Concept forms submitted by Friday, September 10, 2018, and proceed with a down-select process. Only those project teams that pass the down-select process will move forward to the full Proposal phase.

America Makes will be in communication with all submission teams to notify them whether or not they will be proceeding to the full Proposal phase. No detailed feedback will be provided at that time. In the Proposal phase, project teams will develop a full proposal as in previous project calls.

Proposal teams will have approximately seven (7) weeks to submit their full proposals to America Makes, which are due on Friday, October 12, 2018.


To be eligible for the America Makes Project Call, a lead proposer must be an America Makes member by Friday, September 28, 2018. Information on how to join America Makes is available at Participants of the lead proposer’s team may be made up of America Makes members and non-members.


All Project Concept forms are due no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, August 24, 2018. Submissions received after the deadline will not be considered.

Submissions must be e-mailed to with “America Makes AAPT PROJECT CONCEPT” as the Subject line. All Project Concept submissions will be acknowledged with a return e-mail confirmation from NCDMM. For those selected Project Concepts, full proposals are due on Friday, October 12, 2018.

Award Announcements

The America Makes AAPT Directed Project award announcements will occur by October 2018. The anticipated start date of the projects is December 2018.

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


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

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