Nov 28, 2017 | By Tess

America Makes, the U.S.’s national 3D printing initiative, has announced the launch of its Call for Phase 3 for its Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-Cost Sustainment (MAMLS) program. The MAMLS program, which is geared towards improving the efficiency of rapid part replacement for legacy and other aircraft through 3D printing, is supported by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, and the Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division.

While Phases 1 and 2 of the MAMLS project call were focused on overcoming challenges with materials, processes, and post-processing techniques for aircraft part replacement, Phase 3 will be centered on addressing challenges that arise in terms of maintenance, sustainment, and logistics operations when adopting additive manufacturing technologies. These current areas of focus were identified through Phase 1 and 2 of MAMLS.

Ultimately, the goal of MAMLS is to find solutions to the aforementioned hurdles, in order to increase the adoption and overall efficiency of additive manufacturing solutions in the aircraft manufacturing field. As AFRL has pointed out, these factors have “[impeded] the fulfillment of the extensive breadth of parts required by the Air Force sustainment community.”

“Phase 3 of MAMLS will improve rapid part replacement/maintenance for legacy aircraft, enable on-demand replacement of critically damaged or obsolete components, and reduce the cost and lead time to fabricate replacement components. This is an effort with the potential to resolve the existing challenges that are hindrances to maintaining the strategic readiness of the Air Force, as well as the entire military, today and well into the future,” commented Rob Gorham, America Makes Executive Director.

America Makes’ Project Call for Phase 3 has beed divided into three topic areas: Feature-based Qualification using Directed Energy Deposition (DED), Understanding Manufacturing Realities of AM, and Emerging Process Technology for Low Criticality Part Families. Due to funding restrictions, only proposals up to $5.7 million will be accepted.

The first topic area, Feature-based Qualification using Directed Energy Deposition (DED), is aimed at using feature-based qualification (FBQ) techniques—which help to identify all relevant unique combinations of process parameters with simplified specimen geometries—to aid in the production of large scale aerospace parts made using DED additive manufacturing technology. The goal of this topic area is to demonstrate if and how FBQ methods are viable for DED processes.

The second topic area, Understanding Manufacturing Realities of AM, is seeking to quantify the effect of defects on the mechanical performance of additively manufactured material. In other words, it is geared towards finding evaluation and characterization processes which can help to understand and predict flaws that occur from such things as powder contamination, contamination, process interruptions, and more.

The third topic area, Emerging Process Technology for Low Criticality Part Families, is geared towards finding additional opportunities for 3D printing within the aerospace manufacturing sector, notably for the production of low criticality components, such as electrical connectors, ducting, manifolds, and more. “Additionally, AFRL seeks to assess the degree to which the demonstrated solutions extend to part families of similar size, shape, criticality, and function,” adds America Makes.

To submit a proposal for Phase 3 of MAMLS, interested parties must first submit a Project Concept Form which summarizes the proposed technology or method. These must be submitted by January 3, 2018. From there, teams will then have to submit a more fleshed out proposal to be eligible for any funding or awards.

According to America Makes, Phase 3 should have up to $5.7 million in funding to give, with “at least $2.8M in matching funds from the awarded project teams” for a total of about $8.5 million.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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