The USA’s Office of Naval Research, has awarded Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) a $2.6 million two-year contract, through its Quality Metal Additive Manufacturing (Quality MADE) programme, to supply technology solutions that will ensure the supply of quality metal additively manufactured parts. An option to extend the contract for a further two years, valued at $3.8 million, was also announced.
This move is expected to bring the US Navy closer to being able to build parts for critical Naval applications using Additive Manufacturing, thereby enhancing its fleet readiness.
According to the US Navy, the adoption of Additive Manufacturing is necessary to cut back on the time and costs associated with deploying qualified, certified AM metallic components for Naval air, sea and ground platforms. When the Quality MADE programme was first announced in July 2015, it was widely reported that the Navy would like to build aircraft parts onboard ships at sea, thus avoiding the challenge of storing components and large parts on ships and aircraft.
The Navy is also said to be interested in shortening the acquisition timeline, broadening the industrial supply base and developing the ability to produce parts on-demand at Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs).
Edward J Sheehan, Jr., President and CEO, CTC, commented, “In a February 2017 statement, the vice chiefs of America’s armed forces said their personnel and aging equipment are stretched thin amid years of war, statutory budget caps and temporary workarounds, end-strength cuts, and Congress passing continuing resolutions. In response to this need, Concurrent Technologies Corporation and its integrated project team members are providing new technology that can address the short- and long-term challenge of replacing ageing or broken parts literally on site.”
“Aging Naval platforms are being challenged by dwindling traditional sources of supply, which reduces readiness and causes unacceptable logistical delays. In response to this need, the Naval Warfare Centers, maintenance depots, and FRCs plan to use Additive Manufacturing to produce small quantities of out-of-production or long lead-time metallic components,” he concluded.
Ken Sabo, Senior Director, Additive Manufacturing and Materials, CTC, stated that the project team will develop and demonstrate a suite of AM software and hardware technologies required to support the rapid qualification of critical metallic components at a reduced cost.
“Microstructure-property evolution and its in-process control are not well established for AM of metallic parts compared to traditional metal processing,” he explained. “Our goal is to address these gaps and ensure that parts produced throughout the US Navy consistently perform as intended.”
“The team will produce metal parts using laser Powder Bed Fusion to develop and validate a proposed framework,” he added. “Team members will include Concurrent Technologies Corporation, SLM Solutions N.A., MSC Software, MRL Materials Resources LLC, the University of Pittsburgh, and America Makes.”
CTC is an independent, nonprofit, applied scientific research and development professional services organisation. Alongside its affiliates, Enterprise Ventures Corporation and CTC Foundation, the organisation carries out research, development, test and evaluation work to provide full lifecycle solutions.