America Makes’ Spring 2024 TRX highlights growth opportunities

April 29, 2024

April 29, 2024

America Makes Trx

The spring Technical Review & Exchange (TRX) event hosted by America Makes took place April 9-11, 2024, at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, USA. The event brought together hundreds of engineers, decision-makers, government officials, members, and partners across the AM industry, and showcased more than thirty projects highlighting the institute’s growth and achievements.

“America Makes is here to serve as the voice of the AM industry. We are working with those in industry and academia, the national lab network, and even beyond the Department of Defense (DoD), to understand the technical attributes to change our current state,” shared Brandon Ribic, Technology Director at America Makes.

As with previous events, this year’s conference allowed members to take a deeper look at the institute’s work, offering insights into some of Additive Manufacturing’s challenges and growth opportunities. As well as research and development updates, the event allowed industry members to network and share approaches across design, material, process and value chain, operations, and more.

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Metal AM process and material advancements

Controlling variability and monitoring material properties and microstructure emerged as headlining topics. As noted in the keynote presentation from Nik Hrabe, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), current challenges, such as a limited understanding of powder properties, unclear measurement techniques, and varying reproducibility of different powder metrics, are pervasive barriers hindering standard protocols for powder measurement techniques across equipment manufacturers.

NIST’s latest process monitoring developments across metal build part irregularities focused on fatigue and fracture behaviour in critical applications to address these gaps.

“I think, as a community, we’re getting better at printing parts that, when possible, can have minimal defects and rough surfaces or internal pores no longer drive component failure,” Hrabe said.

To date, Hrabe and the NIST research team accomplished the following:

  • Discovered new sources of variation in AM titanium and developed effective mitigation strategies
  • Led the development of two new ISO/ASTM standards for design guidelines and powder handling
  • Developed a novel fatigue-resistant AM titanium microstructure and introduced a cost-effective process control technique to enhance fatigue performance
  • Enabled what is reputed to be the first-time use of AM titanium in critical medical device applications
  • Devised a resonant acoustic technique for speedy, cost-effective, nondestructive evaluation of AM parts

In further material development, Ryan Ott from the Ames National Laboratory highlighted progress in developing refractory alloy powders for Additive Manufacturing and the current industrialisation challenges and opportunities. Utilising data from existing Oxide Dispersion Strengthened (ODS) methodologies, Ott claimed that he and his team at Ames National Laboratory had seen incremental successes in developing high-performance aluminium alloys with higher melting temperatures, potentially foreshadowing significant advancement towards commercialisation.

“We are trying to fill that tech gap using nuclear fusion, and we hope to leverage the capabilities and the expertise to translate that fundamental discovery science into that commercial adoption,” Ott said.

Areas of focus for qualification and standardisation

TRX@Mines highlighted the significance of qualification and standardisation in hastening Additive Manufacturing adoption in aerospace and defence. Delta qualification projects echoed the need for a standardised approach to Additive Manufacturing to ensure quality, reliability, and safety.

Among the current six active projects, The Ohio State University Center for Design Manufacturing Excellence’s Ben DiMarco, Project Leader, urged engineers to embrace new ideas while discussing the project for Rapid Qualification Pathway for Metal Additive Manufacturing using Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) for Critical Applications in partnership with EOS. DiMarco’s team has developed a data fusion approach that leverages optical cameras, tomography sensors, and machine data to streamline the metal Additive Manufacturing processes. By utilising these technologies, the team is positioned to create a faster and more flexible data-driven framework that can be used across multiple machines to increase supply chain efficiency.

Similarly, Zack Simkin of Senvol discussed his team’s project focusing on material allowables for qualification. Senvol and its team devised an approach to developing a material design that leverages machine learning (ML) algorithms.

Senvol’s ML approach analysed numerous changing parameters simultaneously within the topic area’s scope, noting each parameter’s marginal contribution. The research teams’ efforts indicated a viable alternative to conventional ‘point solution’ methods, opening the door for a more economically feasible and flexible approach. Furthermore, it substantiated that data-driven ML algorithms could significantly reduce the cost of material design allowable development. This approach is expected to lead to a greater understanding of optimal solutions to overcome the qualification and re-qualification challenges that slow the expansion of this innovative industry.

Casting and forging

Additive Manufacturing’s potential to improve the casting and forging sector took centre stage as several presenters demonstrated new findings as part of America Makes multi-year technology C&F roadmap.

Honeywell’s Greg Colvin presented findings from the project ‘Transitioning Best Practices and Technical Improvements for 3D Printed Molds/Cores for Sand Castings.’ In partnership with Ex-One, Hoosier Pattern, Ohio Aluminium, and Chicago Magnesium, Colvin discussed the team’s effort to improve the casting quality of parts produced with AM sand molds and cores. The project aims to reduce porosity, improve surface roughness, minimise dimensional variations, and disseminate findings to the industry, with The American Foundry Association (AFS) developing training materials and courses to promote innovative solutions for small and medium-sized foundries.

Along those same lines, America Makes’ cemented its commitment to expanding the C&F industry as John Martin, Research Director, announced the Institute’s latest project call worth $6.6 million. The project ‘Improvements in Manufacturing Productivity via Additive Capabilities and Techno-Economic Analysis 2.0 (IMPACT 2.0)’ hopes to revolutionise the manufacturing industry. Its two-pronged approach aims to showcase improvements in lead time, productivity, and yield for the C&F manufacturing operations.

AM innovation driven by collaboration

The reintroduction of CORE, the Institute’s digital information hub, presented by Joe Veranese, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at NCDMM, and Jason Saly, Director of IT and Cloud Services, is a step towards fostering collaboration and providing reliable information on the latest datasets for members to access. This move is expected to facilitate increased partnerships and information sharing, ultimately leading to the acceleration of the AM industry.

To view the content presented at TRX, click here.

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April 29, 2024

In the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

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Extensive AM industry news coverage, as well as the following exclusive deep-dive articles:

  • Metal powders in Additive Manufacturing: An exploration of sustainable production, usage and recycling
  • Inside Wayland Additive: How innovation in electron beam PBF is opening new markets for AM
  • An end-to-end production case study: Leveraging data-driven machine learning and autonomous process control in AM
  • Consolidation, competition, and the cost of certification: Insight from New York’s AM Strategies 2024
  • Scandium’s impact on the Additive Manufacturing of aluminium alloys
  • AM for medical implants: An analysis of the impact of powder reuse in Powder Bed Fusion

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