America Makes, the United States’ national additive manufacturing institute, has launched its latest Project Call, called Additive for eXtreme Improvement in Optical Mounts (AXIOM). The new project call aims to support the U.S. Air Force’s continued advancement through the development of high-precision optical components used in sensors, space systems and other applications.
The Project Call will play a role in the Air Force’s Science and Technology Strategy, a 10-year plan that seeks to maintain the Air Force’s strategic and operational advantages. The call is also related to America Makes’ Technology Roadmap, which identifies challenges across AM as well as which types of projects are best suited for a public-private partnership model, rather than a private industry project. The AXIOM Project Call aligns with several areas of the roadmap, including Design, Material and Value Chain.
“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 project call addresses the development of optical components using additive manufacturing. Optical components typically require a specific combination of stiffness, weight, coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), thermal management and dimensional tolerances. This means that they are often costly to manufacture, because of the need for specific materials, manufacturing methods and geometric features. These factors can also lead to longer lead times and supply chain weaknesses. The AXIOM Project Call is therefore hoping to reduce these risks by using additive manufacturing in combination with innovative materials and designs to reliably produce high-precision optical components.
“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 Brandon Ribic, Ph.D., Director of America Makes Technology. “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.”
The AXIOM Project Call is being funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division. The AFRL and the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), which manages America Makes, plan to award a fund of $560,000, with at least $280,000 in matching cost-share funds from the awarded project team.
Interested parties are invited to submit a full proposal (details can be found here) by June 8, 2020. The AXIOM Project Call award notification will be announced on June 19, 2020. A webinar detailing the project call will be held on May 12 at 2pm EDT.