Recreating the Tech Boom of the 20th Century with Advanced Manufacturing
Kagan Pittman posted on October 16, 2018 |
Figure 1. The Manufacturing USA Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report. (Image courtesy Manufacturing USA.)

Figure 1. The Manufacturing USA Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report. (Image courtesy Manufacturing USA.)

The 20th century saw explosions in technological advancements—man’s landing on the moon, the rise of the information age with the Internet and more. The 21st century is maintaining the rate of innovation in large part thanks to America’s manufacturing scene.

The Manufacturing USA (National Network for Manufacturing Innovation Program) network of regional institutes specializes in a diverse range of technologies. Member institutes collaborate with federal departments like the Department of Defense (DoD), academia and other non-governmental agencies whose missions are linked to advanced manufacturing efforts.

The Manufacturing USA’s Fiscal Year 2017 annual report documents progress toward goals outlined in its Strategic plan as well as a break down of the funding and accomplishments of its member institutes for the year. Below, we look at some of the accomplishments and ongoing projects of institutes working with the DoD on technologies like additive manufacturing (AM), cybersecurity, and photonics.

America Makes

AM can produce uniquely shaped and weighted products cheaper and faster than conventional techniques by reducing part counts and offering flexibility for custom designs, which is key in the automotive, medical and aerospace industries.

America Makes is tapping into this potential, having completed 18 projects over the 2017 fiscal year, facilitating collaboration in AM R&D, dissemination as well as workforce and educational outreach from its member organizations.

In one such project, America Makes and the University of Notre Dame are studying nylon (PA 2201), titanium (Ti-6Al-4V) and stainless steel (316L and 17-4PH) powders and their reuse capabilities, both in entirely reused and virgin-mixed blends.

Typical products only consume five to 20 percent of the total powder used to produce a single part. During research, even after multiple production cycles, the spare powder showed no signs of reduction in quality. As powder materials like nylon typically cost between USD$75 to $100 per kilogram, this discovery could result in significant cost savings in part production. 

America Makes is using directed energy deposition (DED) to simulate thermal cycles, increasing the reused powder’s yield and reducing stress on production equipment. The powder is analyzed after each reuse to measure the effects on the morphology of the powder. Information on particle size and distribution is gathered using a laser scanning system and powder flow data is captured through a particle flow analyzer and an angle of repose of free-flowing powder.

The team is also performing tension tests on dog bone samples to identify tensile strength and comparing the results with data collected in a two-level experimental matrix to identify parameters and interactions between factors for each powder material. An inverted response curve is produced to use the DOE characterization as a method for improving performance or compensating for variables to produce consistent outcomes.

Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII)

Cybersecurity is one of the manufacturing industry’s fastest growing concerns. In response, firms like the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), partnered with UI LABS and the DoD to develop the latest in cybersecurity solutions like the Cyber Secure Dashboard.

The dashboard provides user organizations detailed instructions, reference materials, industry best practices and links to available templates and tools for implementation and adherence to the nationally-accepted NIST cybersecurity framework and the DoD-mandated control requirements and cybersecurity control standard.

The dashboard works by cross-referencing the DoD-mandated control requirements of the NIST SP 800-171 r1 with the NIST SP 800-53r4 cyber security control standard and organizes results for ease of use.

The dashboard is available to SMEs as well as OEMs. As such, the DMDII team and its collaborators work to address complications that may be caused by the DoD’s DFAR 252.204-7012 compliance and its requirements.

There is a registration fee to use the dashboard of $1,500, but a free two-week trial is offered with limited access to the dashboards features.

The dashboard was designed in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Heartland Science and Technology Group, Lockheed Martin, HL Precision Manufacturing and Integrity Technology Solutions.

AIM Photonics

Photonics has proven to dramatically improve the performance of electronic integrated circuits as well as reducing size, weight and power consumption of circuitry. AIM Photonics (The American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics) is focused on working with SMEs and the nation’s industrial and academic experts in indium phosphide and silicon photonics integration.

Throughout FY2017, AIM Photonics focused on capacity building to counter the high costs of integrated photonics, including processing, packaging, assembly and testing. These capabilities are also being used to advance DoD priority projects, using photonic integrated circuits in military applications.

In August 2017, AIM Photonics awarded $1.2 million to a consortium led by the University of Arizona (UA) to develop focal plane arrays (FPAs) that use photonic integrated circuits (PICs) in advanced imaging systems.

The project consists of the design, fabrication and testing of cryogenic PIC-based datalinks for FPA readout, which has the potential to overcome the limitations of conventional electronic FPA readout components and offer significant improvements in imaging capabilities for national defense applications.

“When you consider the rapid pace of growth in both the FPA size and the required data rates, conventional electronic readouts become limited because they are both a heat source and a communication bottleneck,” said Dr. Robert Norwood, professor of optical sciences at UA and principal investigator for the program.

The consortium led by the University of Arizona also includes Sandia National Labs, Raytheon and other aerospace firms engaged in FPA technology. 

Manufacturing USA Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2017

The America Makes 3D Veterans Bootcamp program provides training in additive manufacturing and 3D printing to veterans in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Antonio and San Francisco. (Image courtesy America Makes.)
The America Makes 3D Veterans Bootcamp program provides training in additive manufacturing and 3D printing to veterans in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Antonio and San Francisco. (Image courtesy America Makes.)

The above projects are only the tip of the iceberg on new and exciting innovations outlined within the Manufacturing USA annual report, which includes more information on the companies listed above as well as details on other companies working with the DoD and other government agencies.

The Manufacturing USA Fiscal Year 2017 report can be downloaded here.

Manufacturing USA works toward developing cost-effective, high-performing domestic manufacturing capabilities and an advanced manufacturing workforce with its host of member institutes in direct partnership with both governmental and non-governmental agencies. The Manufacturing USA member institutes receive support to achieve sustainability after the initial federal start-up funding period.

Manufacturing USA is established by the Department of Commerce and run by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department of Defense and other government agencies working with the private sector. The program is overseen by the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office, headquartered at NIST.

For more information, visit the Manufacturing USA website.

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