3D Systems, Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA, has been awarded a contract by America Makes, the US’s National Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Institute, and the United States Department of Defense (DoD) to conduct the research and development of a corrosion performance design guide for the Additive Manufacturing of nickel alloys. The program is a Directed Project Opportunity on Advanced Tools for Rapid Qualification (ATRQ), funded by the Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy Office within the Office of the US Secretary of Defense.
As part of the project, 3D Systems will collaborate with Newport News Shipbuilding, Virginia, USA, and Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, Dulles, Virginia, USA, as well as corrosion experts at the University of Akron, Ohio, USA. The company was awarded this project through a competitive selection process and reportedly received it based on its ability to thoroughly collect corrosion data and apply its expertise on the effects of various production practices associated with parts built on its DMP range of systems.
As a producer of Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) AM systems, 3D Systems stated that it will ensure that machine parameters and related software are appropriately taken into account to address phenomena observed in the corrosion analysis. It will also identify the specific corrosion mechanisms that form the bulk of key nickel alloy corrosion difficulties common to naval sea system platforms and high-speed weapons.
The project partners will support 240 corrosion tests with four different surface finishes and four different heat treatments evaluating crevice, stress corrosion cracking, and galvanic corrosion modes. Surface finish and post-build annealing time will also be varied to simulate the range of surface conditions, elemental micro-segregation, and deleterious secondary phases found in deployed components.
“We believe that post-processes for additively manufactured components can be designed to limit corrosion in a saltwater environment,” stated Dr Jared Blecher, Principal, Aerospace & Defense Engineering, 3D Systems. “Through our research and development efforts, corrosion rates will be quantified for additively manufactured parts, so end-users will have better data for deciding when parts should be inspected or replaced. Additionally, we’ll explore the value of heat treatment to help improve the mechanical properties of the part and mitigate corrosion and ultimately cost.”
John Wilczynski, America Makes Executive Director, commented, “There’s no question that the DoD’s need for rapid qualification and certification of Additive Manufacturing processes like DMP using metal materials like nickel alloys is great. The creation of a performance design guide by 3D Systems and its project partners will be of tremendous value to the DoD. With qualified empirical data on how to minimise saltwater corrosion of additively manufactured components used in weapon systems, defence supply chains can accelerate their adoption of additive technologies to manufacture these critical components.”
“We’re excited to partner with 3D Systems on this important effort,” added Charles Southall, Vice President of Engineering and Design for Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries. “Last year, we collaborated to qualify metal Additive Manufacturing technologies to build naval warships, and installed 3D Systems’ DMP technology. We’re looking forward to expanding that work by developing design standards to help create more durable parts, and ultimately improve the quality of our armed forces’ fleet.”