Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), California, USA, have joined a collaboration with the U.S. Navy, aimed at producing critical replacement parts using metal Additive Manufacturing. The Office of Naval Research recently announced an award of $9 million to fund the collaboration, which is led by GE Global Research and aimed at developing a rapid process for creating exact digital models of replacement or newly designed parts for naval, marine and aviation assets.
The collaboration involves scientists and engineers from LLNL, GE’s Aviation and Additive divisions, Honeywell, Penn State University, the Nuclear National Lab (NNL) and the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). The goal over the four-year project will be to build ‘digital twins’ from model and sensor-based data, enabling scientists and engineers to dramatically speed up the qualification and certification process of for metal AM parts. The partners stated that researchers hope to eventually replace traditional manufacturing processes with Additive Manufacturing, and produce legacy replacement parts no longer manufactured by conventional methods.
Under the collaboration, LLNL reported that it will contribute its ongoing development of an intelligent, computational ‘feed forward’ design process, which relies heavily on advanced modeling and simulation, as well as experimental analysis, to predict and teach AM systems to efficiently create parts without defects. “We’ve come up with a methodology and we think we’ve made some significant progress in part qualification,” explained Wayne King, head of LLNL’s Accelerated Certification of Additively Manufactured Metals (ACAMM) project. “We’re training the machines to build parts right the first time, every time, and building the confidence of our physicists and project engineers that they are high-quality.”
The four-year ‘Quality Made’ programme will initially focus on underlying software and hardware developments, before moving toward the development of a complete system demonstrating rapid and robust creation of a part’s digital model or digital twin. The project is expected to culminate in the production of parts for the U.S. Navy using a Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM) AM system.
“The goal is to learn from data generated with the 3D machine and from the parts themselves to rapidly build, validate and certify a part’s digital model, or Digital Twin, for printing,” added Ade Makinde, Principal Engineer of Additive Technologies at GE Global Research. “Today, this process can take years. We want to reduce it to weeks by enabling the machine and the part give us the relevant data we need to verify its design.”