Additive Manufacturing of Critical Components

NCMS Project #: 142032

Problem: Currently there are several different types of Additive Manufacturing (AM) processes and equipment, and the technology is constantly evolving.  Each different type of AM process can have a unique and specific set of variables from one type of process to another.  These variables have a direct impact on the resulting material properties and fatigue life of the produced component.  Challenges that exist with AM are the lack of defined standards for the qualification and certification of the materials and processes, and variability from process to process This lack of standards and certification has an adverse effect on maintenance and sustainment tasks and can prolong the repairs of critical equipment as maintainers must wait for traditionally manufactured parts from a sluggish supply system.  

Benefit: This initiative will focus on creating AM critical components that see significant stresses, are of lighter weight and will be used in higher temperature applications.  The effort will act as a surrogate to demonstrate the technologies that can be applied across a variety of vehicle and equipment fleets.  Lessons learned can be applied by other organizations facing similar challenges.

Solution/Approach: Defining this qualification/certification standard is a necessary step in AM to ensure consistent component material properties, quality, and performance.  A critical military need for the U.S. Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) is to improve operational performance through design of complex parts with novel geometries, innovative component lightweighting, and rapid manufacturing in distributed environments.  The objectives for this initiative are to develop an AM process database and qualification/certification plan for AM processes via Design of Experiments (DOE), as well as to perform rapid fatigue testing and non-destructive inspection for component validation.  This data driven process map will enable a framework for the application of AM for NGCV critical components. 

Impact on Warfighter:

  • Decrease maintenance and sustainment costs
  • Create a more resilient supply chain
  • Enable in-theatre manufacturing at point-of-need
  • Shorten logistics tail
  • Improve warfighter readiness

DOD Participation:

  • U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC)

Industry Participation:

  • Eaton Corporation
  • NCMS

Benefit Area(s):

  • Cost savings
  • Repair turn-around time
  • Maintenance avoidance and reliability
  • Obsolescence management and continued maintenance capability
  • Positive environmental impact
  • Maintenance management improvement
  • Improved readiness
  • Durability
  • Reliability improvement
  • Lightweighting

Focus Area:

  • Additive manufacturing