America Makes announces Delta Qual project call totalling $3.2M

April 13, 2023

The United States’ National Center for Defense of Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) and America Makes, Youngstown, Ohio, USA, have announced a new directed project call funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) worth a total of $3.2 million.

The objective of the “Demonstration of Novel Methods for Effective AM Process Qualification/Re-Qualification – Delta Qualification (Delta Qual)” project call is to establish a qualified Additive Manufacturing process, rapidly and affordably, allowing changes in key AM process, post-processing, and/or material feedstock variables while efficiently validating a qualified AM material through statistical analysis.

Qualification of Additive Manufacturing machines and materials is a major barrier to the broad adoption of AM; generating the requisite data and models requires substantial resources to produce statistically significant data and perform testing and analysis of the resulting data. These requirements inhibit the agility of the Additive Manufacturing to respond to changes in the technology or the supply chain base, requiring a total requalification that can be costly and time-consuming.

The proposed projects should be applicable to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4-7 and Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) 4-7 at the onset of the proposed project. NCDMM and AFRL anticipate funding up to seven awards in three major areas of Delta Qual, however, the combination and number of awards per topic are not fixed.

  • Topic 1: Major Delta Qualification Demonstration (up to two awards, not to exceed $700,000)
  • Topic 2: Minor Delta Qualification Demonstration (up to four awards, not to exceed $350,000)
  • Topic 3: The Red Team (one award anticipated, not to exceed $400K)
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Responses to Topics 1 and 2 should seek to make a single change to the baseline process and employ advanced numerical, analytical, and experimental methodologies to accelerate and reduce the cost of establishing equivalence to the baseline. The goal is to achieve at least a minimum of equivalence to the performance of the baseline material. Responses to both topics are limited to Ti-6Al-4V grade 5 Powder Bed Fusion.

Responses to Topic 3 will outline an approach that includes a metal AM process-specific team to serve as subject matter experts to collect and harmonise Additive Manufacturing standards and provide a map as to how Standard Organizations can include useful language for updating AM Process Qualification.

“This project call is designed to provide America Makes and our stakeholders with a framework of qualification methods and data points that enable new technologies, solutions, and processing standards to be rapidly qualified for use within the nation’s additive manufacturing supply chain,” states Brandon Ribic, Technology Director, America Makes. “To remain competitive, the AM industry must quickly adapt to the needs of the warfighter and other commercial users that are often confronted with excessive costs and years to qualify minor changes in their AM processes. Delta Qual is a very important step to provide foundational information for the industrialisation of AM technologies.”

Submission deadline for these awards are May 22, 2023; the awards announcement is anticipated to take place June 23.

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