Where are the ceramics? We are pleased to see NAMII make seven significant additive manufacturing R&D awards, but it appears that they are all for polymers or metals. Credit: LBL.

The Youngstown, Ohio, based National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) hit the ground running and this week announced its first $4.5 million in awards for seven projects. Matching funds from proposal winners bring the value of the awards up to $5 million.

The Obama administration established NAMII in August 2012 as the pilot institute for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) and President Obama brought the Youngstown institute to the nation’s attention when he mentioned it in January’s State of the Union address. The public-private-academic consortium comprises 40 companies, nine research universities, five community colleges, and 11 nonprofits. (Obama announced the NNMI concept just one year ago, in March 2012, and provided it with $45 million in federal funding from DOD, DOE, Department of Commerce, NSF, and NASA.)

According to the press release, all seven winning projects come from the ranks of NAMII consortium members and are R&D projects that address aspects of NAMII’s four thrust areas are technology development, technology transition, additive manufacturing enterprise, and education/workforce outreach.

Based on what I can see in the press release, none of these projects specify research on ceramic materials-the focus seems to be on polymers and metals. (I was not able to reach anyone at NAMII this morning.) NAMII says it will announce its second call for proposals in June at the RAPID 2013 Conference and Exposition in Pittsburgh, Pa. Let’s hope they add ceramic materials to the mix. We have often reported in CTT, additive manufacturing is an excellent fabrication technology for ceramics, as this example and this example show.

Here are the awards (from the press release).

Maturation of Fused Depositing Modeling (FDM) Component Manufacturing
Rapid Prototype + Manufacturing LLC (RP+M)

Led by small business part producer, RP+M, in partnership with equipment manufacturers and large industry system integrators and the University of Dayton Research Institute, this project will provide the community with a deeper understanding of the properties and opportunities of the high-temperature polymer, ULTEMTM 9085. Some of the key outcomes from this project include a design guide; critical materials and processing data; and machine, material, part and process certification.

Qualification of Additive Manufacturing Processes and Procedures for Repurposing and Rejuvenation of Tooling
Case Western Reserve University

Led by Case Western Reserve University, in partnership with several additive manufacturers, die casters, computer modelers, and the North American Die Casting Association, this project will develop, evaluate, and qualify methods for repairing and repurposing tools and dies. Die casting tools are very expensive—sometimes exceeding $1 million each—and require long lead times to manufacture. The ability to repair and repurpose tools and dies can save energy and costs, and reduce lead time by extending tool life through use of the additive manufacturing techniques developed by this team.

Sparse-Build Rapid Tooling by Fused Depositing Modeling (FDM) for Composite Manufacturing and Hydroforming“

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Fused Depositing Modeling (FDM) for Complex Composites Tooling
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

Two projects focusing on fused depositing modeling are to be co-led developed in close collaboration by Missouri University of Science and Technology and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, in partnership with other small and large companies and the Robert C. Byrd Institute’s Composite Center of Excellence. These projects address a key near-term opportunity for additive manufacturing: the ability to rapidly and cost-effectively produce tooling for composite manufacturing. Polymer composite tools often involve expensive, complex machined, metallic structures that can take months to manufacture. Recent developments with high-temperature polymeric tooling, such as the ULTEM 9085 material, show great promise for low-cost, energy-saving tooling options for the polymer composites industry. In addition, these projects will explore the use of sparse-build tools, minimizing material use for the needs of the composite process. Composites are high-strength materials that are used in a wide range of industries and can be used for lightweighting, a key strategy for reducing energy use.

Maturation of High-Temperature Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) Technologies and Infrastructure
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

Led by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, in partnership with several industry team members, this project will develop a selective laser sintering process for a lower-cost, high-temperature thermoplastic for making air and space vehicle components and other commercial applications. In addition, recyclability and reuse of materials will also be explored to maximize cost savings and promote sustainability.

Thermal Imaging for Process Monitoring and Control of Additive Manufacturing
Penn State University Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP 3D)

Led by Penn State University, in partnership with several industry and university team members, this project will expand the use of thermal imaging for process monitoring and control of electron beam direct manufacturing (EBDM) and laser engineered net shaping (LENS) additive manufacturing processes. Improvements to the EBDM and LENS systems will enable 3D visualization of the measured global temperature field and real-time control of electron beam or laser power levels based on thermal image characteristics. These outcomes will enable the community to have greater confidence on part properties and quality using these technologies.

Rapid Qualification Methods for Powder Bed Direct Metal Additive Manufacturing Processes
Case Western Reserve University

Led by Case Western Reserve University, in partnership with leading aerospace industry companies and other industry and university team members, this project will improve the industry’s ability to understand and control microstructure and mechanical properties across EOS Laser Sintering and Arcam Electron Beam Melting powder bed processes. Process-based cost modeling with variable production volumes will also be delivered, providing the community with valuable cost estimates for new product lines. The outcomes from this project will deliver much needed information to qualify these production processes for use across many industries.