America Makes launches project call for AM optical components

May 6, 2020

America Makes, Youngstown, Ohio, USA, has launched its next project call to support the continued technological advantage of the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The ‘Additive for eXtreme Improvement in Optical Mounts’ (AXIOM) project call seeks innovative solutions to enhance the readiness of high-precision optical components used in sensors, space systems and other applications by developing and demonstrating novel designs enabled by Additive Manufacturing.

According to America Makes, optical components currently require a challenging combination of weight, stiffness, coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), thermal management, and dimensional tolerances. To meet these requirements, designs often include geometric features, manufacturing methods and materials that can increase cost and lead time and create supply chain vulnerabilities due to the limited set of approved material sources. The project call aims to mitigate these risks through innovative approaches, which leverage AM in conjunction with novel designs or materials to demonstrate equivalence and reliability when compared to a commercial off-the-shelf product.

The institute stated that, as with all America Makes project calls, the technical requirements of the AXIOM project directly relate to the America Makes Technology Roadmap, which identifies measurable and meaningful challenges that, when met, promote inquiry, knowledge-sharing and technical advancements across the AM industry. The roadmap is also said to identify concepts that are most suitable to be researched within the public-private partnership model versus private industry projects. AXIOM aligns to multiple focus areas of the Technology Roadmap, including Design, Material, and Value Chain swimlanes.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division is funding the AXIOM Project Call. The AFRL and the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) aim to make available approximately $560,000 to fund one award with at least $280,000 in matching cost-share funds from the awarded project team for total funding worth $840,000.

“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 ten-year blueprint to maintaining its strategic and operational advantages,” stated John Wilczynski, America Makes Executive Director. “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 defence security.”

Brandon Ribic, PhD., America Makes’ Technology Director, commented, “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. 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.”

America Makes will convene a ‘Call Kick-off Webinar’ on May 12, 2020, at 14:00 EDT to review all of the criteria. The project submission deadline is June 8, 2020 at 17:00 EDT.

Further information and submission/eligibility guidelines are available via the institute website.

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