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SLAM takes an application-driven approach, across a wide array of requirements, to understand adoption areas for various material extrusion polymer-AM material systems and reduce material testing.
The goal of this project is to quantify the service life of AM parts exposed to DoD operational environments by evaluating degradation mechanisms and determine methods to mitigate risks.
Only recently have appropriate process controls been applied to three-dimensional (3D) printers with production floor readiness capabilities in mind. Publicly available data is limited to test results provided by material providers or printer original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), often reporting averages of limited test sampling and ignoring low performing specimens or overall spread of data. The lack of reliable data is a barrier for translation of AM parts into a production setting, leaving production applications vulnerable even when used in a non-load, non-critical application space. Additionally, until recently no standard criteria or specification of printing was available for creating a reliable and understandable data set.
The objective of this project is to deliver an open and comprehensive set of manufacturing tools to improve the rate of qualifying materials and part families. The project seeks to provide scalability from coupon level combined with dataset interoperability to further enable manufacturing technology implementations across relevant DoD services and their strategic / operational / tactical-level sustainment commands.
The technical approach includes two phases. Phase 1 involves creation of a rapid qualification methodology built around a full set of environmental conditioning with extensive dynamic characterizations performed on ULTEM 9085. RP+M’s AS9100 certified facility, used to generate the B-Basis Allowables for the previous UTLEM qualification, enables the highest quality specimens and components to be analyzed without concern for unknown processing variables. Testing of the initial ULTEM 9085 specimens is being conducted at National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) and Auburn University. EWI’s nondestructive evaluation (NDE) techniques capture failure mechanisms and degradation progressions by sampling specimens at different aging stages and cycles. The results of the characterization and NDE methods create a probabilistic framework with the intent to estimate service life reduction and determine the risk in using AM for the proposed environmental conditions.
Phase 2 of the program continues with the selection of a second material from the provided prioritized list based on requirements gathered at the beginning of the program. Optimized ULTEM 9085 specimens and components, and optimized second material specimens and components are sent through an efficiently scoped characterization effort (aging and NDE). The optimize and validate step provides an opportunity to quantify the process optimization efforts captured in the service life guide; validate the predictive service life model; and demonstrate the efficiencies gained by exercising the rapid qualification methodology.