QuesTek wins US Air Force Research Lab AM modelling challenge

July 29, 2020

The US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and America Makes have announced that QuesTek Innovations, Evanston, Illinois, USA, has won the Additive Manufacturing Modelling Challenge ‘Macro-scale Structure-to-Properties Predictions’ to improve the understanding and modelling capability of the complex linkage of process-structure-performance of AM built components.

The goal of the AFRL Challenge Series was to improve the accuracy of model predictions for metal Additive Manufacturing with Inconel® 625 nickel-chromium alloy (IN625) as an example. Challenge participants were provided with high-pedigree calibration and validation datasets needed to develop new models directly related to predicting the internal structure and resultant performance of AM metallic components.

After reviewing all the entries, QuesTek’s submission was ranked as Top Performer for the most accurate prediction of key material properties such as strength, elongation, and modulus of elasticity. The inputs provided to QuesTek were limited to printed component geometry and dimensions, alloy compositions, as-printed and heat-treated microstructures, surface roughness and porosity.

“QuesTek has successfully demonstrated the ability to predict microstructures and properties across a range of alloy systems in metal AM including nickel, aluminium, titanium and steel. We are aware of a significant market need for such a capability, and we are currently incorporating this into a comprehensive software package,” stated Dr. Jiadong Gong, QuesTek’s Technical Fellow and Manager of Modelling and Software Development.

“This package will be able to predict AM materials property and component performance by inputting powder chemistry, machine build parameters and subsequent thermal processing, and will enable rapid qualification of materials and components for critical applications,” added Gong.

To date, QuesTek has been awarded more than sixty projects to understand the fundamental metallurgy and resolve the most pressing materials issues in metal AM. In formulating its response to the AFRL Challenge, QuesTek drew on similar modelling efforts in DARPA’s Open Manufacturing project with Honeywell on Ni 718Plus, a NASA STTR project on IN718, as well as QuesTek’s role in the US Navy’s Quality Made program on IN625 nickel Superalloys.

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