The Office of Naval Research, through its Quality Metal Additive Manufacturing (Quality MADE) program, has awarded Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) a $2.6 million two-year contract to supply technology solutions that will ensure the manufacturability of quality metallic parts from additive manufacturing (AM) machines. This could move the U.S. Navy closer to being able to build parts for critical Naval applications, further bolstering fleet readiness. CTC also anticipates a two-year option for $3.8 million that will further demonstrate AM.
According to the U.S. Navy, AM, also known as 3D printing, is necessary to cut back on the time and costs associated with deploying qualified, certified AM metallic components for Naval air, sea, and ground platforms. AM is an emerging technology that allows engineers to make one or two parts instead of mass quantities in a cost-effective manner.
When the U.S. Navy’s Quality Made program was announced in July 2015, 3D Print.com reported that the Navy would like to build parts onboard ships at sea for aircraft to avoid the challenge of storing components and large parts on ships and aircraft. The Navy also is interested in shortening the acquisition timeline, broadening the industrial supply base, and having the ability to produce parts on demand at Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs).
“In a February 2017 statement, the vice chiefs of America’s armed forces said their personnel and aging equipment are stretched thin amid years of war, statutory budget caps and temporary workarounds, end-strength cuts, and Congress passing continuing resolutions. In response to this need, Concurrent Technologies Corporation and its integrated project team members are providing new technology that can address the short- and long-term challenge of replacing aging or broken parts literally on site,” said Edward J. Sheehan, Jr., President and CEO, Concurrent Technologies Corporation.
According to the Office of Naval Research, “Aging Naval platforms are being challenged by dwindling traditional sources of supply, which reduces readiness and causes unacceptable logistical delays. In response to this need, the Naval Warfare Centers, maintenance depots, and FRCs plan to use additive manufacturing to produce small quantities of out-of-production or long lead-time metallic components.”
Ken Sabo, Senior Director, Additive Manufacturing and Materials, Concurrent Technologies Corporation, said the project team will develop and demonstrate a suite of additive manufacturing software and hardware technologies required to support the rapid qualification of critical metallic components at a reduced cost.
“Microstructure-property evolution and its in-process control are not well established for additive manufacturing of metallic parts compared to traditional metal processing,” Sabo said. “Our goal is to address these gaps and ensure that parts produced throughout the U.S. Navy consistently perform as intended.”
“The team will produce metal parts using laser powder-bed fusion to develop and validate a proposed framework,” Sabo said. “Team members will include Concurrent Technologies Corporation, SLM Solutions N.A., MSC Software, MRL Materials Resources LLC, the University of Pittsburgh, and America Makes.”