US Army invests $4.3 million in additive manufacturing research at Auburn University


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The United States Army has asked Auburn University to help build the future of American combat readiness.

Thanks to a recent $4.3 million grant from the Army, the National Center of Excellence in Additive Manufacturingor NCAME, at Auburn University Samuel Ginn College of Engineering will soon launch a two-year project focused on qualifying materials, parts and processes, all of which are needed to drive the adoption and implementation of additive manufacturing in military operations.

“Material variation is what I call the ‘Achilles heel’ of additive manufacturing,” said Nima Shamsai, Director of NCAME, Principal Investigator of the project, and Philpott-WestPoint Stevens Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “This can complicate the qualification and certification of additively manufactured materials and parts. »

Even more challenging, Shamsaei said, is ensuring consistency and transferability of process output between different additive manufacturing machines, a project goal that NCAME researchers hope to achieve not just with exhaustive mechanical testing, but with AI, especially machine learning.

“Machine learning will help us establish structure-property relationships in a much more complete way, which is somewhat transferable between platforms,” ​​said Elham MirkoohiCo-Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering.

Shamsaei said Mirkoohi’s experience in AI and machine learning applications for additive manufacturing is the newest addition to NCAME’s research repertoire, which continues to attract high-profile government research grants.

“Simulation and machine learning are effective tools for understanding the role of microstructure and defects on mechanical properties,” said Shuai ShaoCo-Principal Investigator and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

This understanding can help establish equivalence with less need for extensive experimentation, Shao said.

“This project not only examines innovative ways to generate materials data, but also emphasizes knowledge transfer between different additive platforms by establishing equivalence,” said Massoud Mahjouri SamaniCo-Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Aaron LaLonde, who, as a technical specialist in the U.S. Army DEVCOM Ground Vehicle Systems Centerhelped facilitate the Army grant, believes the project will be crucial in further integrating AM, or additive manufacturing, into the Army’s modernization and sustainment efforts.

“NCAME,” LaLonde said, “has become one of the major key players in additive research along these lines.”

His comments echo those of Maj. Gen. Darren L. Werner, commanding general of the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, or TACOM, during the Army Additive Manufacturing Summit organized by the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering last June.

“The research being conducted here at Auburn is important to the military because additive manufacturing is going to provide two different capabilities,” Werner said. “It’s going to give us the ability in our organic industrial base to integrate advanced manufacturing techniques, and it’s also going to provide advanced manufacturing deployability that we can potentially move to an advanced location to produce and repair parts for our fight.”

Created in 2017 through a public-private partnership between Auburn and NASA, NCAME is also one of the founding partners of the ASTM International Center of Excellence for Additive Manufacturingwhich aims to address additive manufacturing standards and workforce gaps.

The FAA has also recently awarded NCAME $6 million for research aimed at improving commercial air travel through the use of additively manufactured metal components focused on a material commonly used in aviation and space, titanium alloys.

(By Jeremy Henderson)

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