National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII): Tomorrow's Capabilities Start Today
During his State of the Union Address, President Obama cited the first institute for manufacturing innovation being located in Youngstown, Ohio. This pilot for subsequent institutes is the first step in President Obama’s vision for advancing U.S. manufacturing and increasing domestic competiveness. The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), is founded on collaboration with its members representing federal, industry, research, non-profit, academia, and workforce development resources. This collaboration has created a shared vision: To transition additive manufacturing technology to the mainstream U.S. manufacturing sector and create an adaptive workforce capable of not only meeting industry needs, but also increasing domestic manufacturing competitiveness.
NAMII is focusing on being the innovation hub necessary to advance both the additive technologies themselves as well as training and enabling an adaptive workforce. AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology fully supports such a vision as this is well-aligned with its Manufacturing Mandate: 1) Incentivize R&D and innovation in new products and manufacturing technologies 2) Increase global competitiveness [by increasing domestic capabilities] 3) Build a better educated and well-trained Smartforce [critically thinking, technically savvy and motivated people].
With much ado about NAMII, the real work is beginning with the first round of projects having recently been awarded. This article summarizes those projects with commentary on the potential impact on industrial applications.
Extrusion’s Industrial Intrusion Polymers, in general, have been developed for decades in such processes as photopolymerization and powder-bed laser sintering. Material extrusion, however, has recently advanced its penetration in the industrial end-use world with new high-temperature, increased structural materials. Fused Deposition Modeling has shown early signs for pervasive industrial use if these latest materials are vetted and certified. The extrusion process also has a high potential for many innovative applications such as embedding materials or devices within its build cycle which is something of high interest to the Department of Defense.
The “Maturation of Fused Depositing Modeling (FDM) Component Manufacturing” project led by Rapid Prototype + Manufacturing LLC (RP+M) in partnership with equipment manufacturers and large industry system integrators and the University of Dayton Research Institute, will provide the community with a deeper understanding of the properties and opportunities of the high-temperature polymer, ULTEM™ 9085. Some of the key outcomes from this project include a design guide; critical materials and processing data; and machine, material, part and process certification.
The next two projects focusing on FDM are to be co-led developed in close collaboration by Missouri University of Science and Technology and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, in partnership with other small and large companies and the Robert C. Byrd Institute’s Composite Center of Excellence.
“Sparse-Build Rapid Tooling by Fused Depositing Modeling (FDM) for Composite Manufacturing and Hydroforming” led by Missouri University of Science and Technology andFused Depositing Modeling (FDM) for Complex Composites Tooling” led by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems address a key near-term opportunity for additive manufacturing: the ability to rapidly and cost-effectively produce tooling for composite manufacturing. Polymer composite tools often involve expensive, complex machined, metallic structures that can take months to manufacture. Recent developments with high-temperature polymeric tooling, such as the ULTEM™ 9085 material, show great promise for low-cost, energy-saving tooling options for the polymer composites industry. In addition, these projects will explore the use of sparse-build tools, minimizing material use for the needs of the composite process. Composites are high-strength materials that are used in a wide range of industries and can be used for reducing product weight which is a key strategy for reducing energy use.
Affordability is King Additive manufacturing can amaze designers, realize concepts and push the bounds of the attainable in many facets, but nothing speaks higher of its industrial value than creating more affordable products. A few high potential areas to achieve increased affordability are in more affordable materials, reduced manufacturing time and leveraging less-constrained operating parameters. This means addressing Competitive Materials and Extending Service Life through Repurposing.
Regarding Competitive Materials, with limited high-temperature materials and equipment available for the laser sintering process, it is imperative to increase the industrial base in both material options and part producers. To Extend Service Life through Repurposing, metal deposition has unique attributes to accommodate parts in their current state and repair, rejuvenate for such applications like expensive, long-lead item tooling.
The “Maturation of High-Temperature Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) Technologies and Infrastructure” project led by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, in partnership with several industry team members, will develop a selective laser sintering (SLS) process for a lower-cost, high-temperature thermoplastic for making air and space vehicle components and other commercial applications. In addition, recyclability and reuse of materials will also be explored to maximize cost savings and promote sustainability.
The “Qualification of Additive Manufacturing Processes and Procedures for Repurposing and Rejuvenation of Tooling” project led byCase Western Reserve University in partnership with several additive manufacturers, die casters, computer modelers, and the North American Die Casting Association, will develop, evaluate, and qualify methods for repairing and repurposing tools and dies. Die casting tools are very expensive — sometimes exceeding $1 million each — and require long lead times to manufacture. The ability to repair and repurpose tools and dies can save energy and costs, and reduce lead time by extending tool life through use of the additive manufacturing techniques developed by this team.
Knowing is Half the Battle Additive manufacturing presents many thermal dynamic phenomena where any one of them could create an unstable, unpredictable environment. Thus it is imperative to increase the basic understanding of the science in order to reduce waste and increase part quality. Metals manufacturing has some of the most interesting phenomena occurring and is poised to have the highest return on applied research and development investment. Metal material processing also has the highest potential for increased structural applications across many industries.
“Thermal Imaging for Process Monitoring and Control of Additive Manufacturing” led byPenn State University Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP 3D) in partnership with several industry and university team members, is a project that will expand the use of thermal imaging for process monitoring and control of electron beam direct manufacturing (EBDM) and laser engineered net shaping (LENS) additive manufacturing processes. Improvements to the EBDM and LENS systems will enable 3D visualization of the measured global temperature field and real-time control of electron beam or laser power levels based on thermal image characteristics. These outcomes will enable the community to have greater confidence on part properties and quality using these technologies.
The “Rapid Qualification Methods for Powder Bed Direct Metal Additive Manufacturing Processes” project led byCase Western Reserve University in partnership with leading aerospace industry companies and other industry and university team members, will improve the industry’s ability to understand and control microstructure and mechanical properties across EOS Laser Sintering and Arcam Electron Beam Melting (EBM®) powder bed processes. Process-based cost modeling with variable production volumes will also be delivered, providing the community with valuable cost estimates for new product lines. The outcomes from this project will deliver much needed information to qualify these production processes for use across many industries.