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US Navy awards $2.6m metal additive manufacturing contract

The US Navy has awarded non-profit research organisation Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) a $2.6 million, two-year contract for supplying laser metal additive manufacturing (AM) solutions. The systems will be used to build certified AM metallic parts for aerospace, naval, and ground platforms in reduced times onboard ships in order to bolster fleet readiness.

The contract was awarded by the Office of Naval Research through its Quality Metal Additive Manufacturing (Quality MADE) programme, which was announced in July 2015 with the intention of one day being able to build replacement aerospace parts at sea to avoid having to store components and large parts on ships and aircraft.

The Navy is also interested in shortening its acquisition timeline, broadening its industrial supply base, and having the ability to produce parts on demand at its Fleet Readiness Centres (FRCs).

‘Aging Naval platforms are being challenged by dwindling traditional sources of supply, which reduces readiness and causes unacceptable logistical delays,’ said the Office of Naval Research. ‘In response to this need, the Naval Warfare Centres, maintenance depots, and FRCs plan to use additive manufacturing to produce small quantities of out-of-production or long lead-time metallic components.’

Through the contract CTC and its integrated project team members will therefore demonstrate a suite of additive manufacturing software and hardware technologies that supports the rapid qualification of critical metallic components at a reduced cost.

‘The team will produce metal parts using laser powder-bed fusion to develop and validate a proposed framework,’ explained Ken Sabo, senior director of AM and materials at CTC. ‘Microstructure-property evolution and its in-process control are not well established for additive manufacturing of metallic parts compared to traditional metal processing. Our goal is to address these gaps and ensure that parts produced throughout the US Navy consistently perform as intended.'

Other team members include SLM Solutions, MSC Software, MRL Materials Resources, the University of Pittsburgh, and America Makes.

Another option for a two-year, $3.8 million contract is also anticipated by CTC to further demonstrate AM.

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