Raytheon named awardee in high precision optical components project to support U.S. Airforce

July 26, 2020

Raytheon Technologies (RTX), a specialist in defence, civil government and cybersecurity solutions based in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA, has been named as the awardee of America Makes’ project call, Additive for eXtreme Improvement in Optical Mounts (AXIOM). 

The award is worth $841,000 in total funding to support the continued technical development within the U.S. Air Force. Raytheon was selected for its submission to the project call, titled ‘Topology Optimized Reflective Optics (TORO)’. 

The objective of the AXIOM Project Call is to innovate solutions that 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.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division, is funding the project. AFRL and the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), which manages America Makes, plan to make available approximately $560,000 with at least $281,000 in matching cost-share funds.

“The AXIOM Project Call submissions were all very good and in line with our expectations given the complexity and various technical challenges put forth,” stated John Wilczynski, America Makes’ Executive Director. “Altogether, the submissions offered a range of unique and promising solutions.”

“The awarded RTX-led proposal details an approach that includes numerous tasks, addressing the relevant technological gaps for the design and production of additively manufactured optical mounts,” he explained. “For the USAF, our membership community, and the broader supply chain, the anticipated outcomes of the RTX effort will be very transformative and valuable. We congratulate RTX and its team.”

Raytheon’s project seeks to advance strategic capabilities in optics through the development of the TORO programme. The project team includes Raytheon Intelligence and Space (RIS), Raytheon Missiles and Defense (RMD), and Raytheon Technologies Research Center (RTRC), in conjunction with nTopology, and Wichita State University–National Institute for Aviation Research (WSU-NIAR). 

By moving the industrial base from known conventional designs with exotic materials to exotic designs made possible by improvements in software workflows with conventional AM materials, TORO expects to use more accessible and less toxic materials in a Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-AM) system to produce designs optimised for both performance and manufacturing.

The expected AM advances under the TORO programme include reduced lead times as compared to conventional manufacturing, and improved topology optimisation and Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM), said to enable enable novel, requirements-driven capabilities for designing optimal optical mounts and components.

“The RTX TORO submission was a well-thought-out effort,” stated Brandon Ribic, PhD, America Makes Technology Director. “We not only look forward to getting the project underway, but also continuing the discussion of how to best leverage Additive Manufacturing technologies for the benefit of those who rely on these complex components.”

The project will commence in August 2020.


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