AdvancedManufacturing.org cites NCMS’ Senior Program Manager Dana Ellis on the importance of Additive Manufacturing in the DoD.
A look at some of the more challenging AM applications, as envisioned by the US Department of Defense, illustrates the direction some of the technical solutions may take. According to Dana Ellis, senior project manager for the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (Ann Arbor, MI), the DOD is heavily researching AM as a way of solving some of its unique problems. The most important is that the DOD has a widely scattered and worldwide presence. The logistics of shipping parts when and where needed are difficult. “There’s a lot of need to print parts in real-time, whether [they are for] a drone or other critical elements for the Armed Forces,” he explained. “The question is how do we do that in an environment to ensure and improve the integrity of that data. [We need to know that] the data is not tampered with or disturbed and the data provenance is secure.” He reported NCMS is looking at novel ideas, like adapting the block chain concept to ensure integrity and security of the resulting part.
However, final part integrity will also require knowledge that the material and dimensional properties of the part also meet specifications. Inspection criteria, such as GD&T and in-process material specifications, will also need to be in the data set. Metrology devices optimized for automated use will also be crucial in remote operation. No doubt these will become equally important in any commercial setting.