Military 3D Printing: Open Additive Awarded 27-Month Air Force CRP Contract

Open Additive has recently been awarded a $2.94M, 27-month Air Force Commercial Readiness Program (CRP) contract. The Beavercreek, Ohio-headquartered 3D printer manufacturer will be working with the U.S. Air Force to bring both their additive manufacturing technology and product line up to an industrial level.

Named “Open Systems Platform for Multi-Laser Additive Manufacturing”, the contract emerges from Open Additive’s previous Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) portfolio and independent research—all centered around the development of a comprehensive laser power bed fusion system featuring an open architecture, advanced processing, and in situ monitoring. The contract was awarded to Open Additive in February of this year, with the first technical review completed in April.

The project’s principal investigator will be Dr. Thomas Spears, who also serves as the Open Additive Chief Scientist. Previously, he worked for six years with GE Aviation and GE Additive, leading technology and product development projects in metal AM.

Open Additive’s large-format 24 x 24 x 12 in (600 x 600 x 300 mm) LPBF testbed, developed under independent funding for technology and applications development.

One of the main goals in establishing the CRP contract is to speed up the transition of SBIR/STTR technologies and products and services to Phase III and into defense acquisition. Formally sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory (Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio), the FA8650-20-C-5007 CRP contract will feature the development and future demonstration of a prototype quad-laser powder bed fusion platform, highlighting:

  • Full user control
  • Standard and advanced processing parameters
  • Multi-sensor monitoring
  • Feedback control
  • Integrated heated build plate with 24-inch by 24-inch build area (600 mm x 600 mm)

“This effort paves the way to extend the versatility and advanced capabilities of our smaller systems to a much larger and more capable platform for the defense industrial base. We’re excited to support the Air Force push in this direction,” said Dr. Ty Pollak, President.

While most divisions of the military have been engaged in using 3D printing for decades, the USAF has been behind numerous, recent innovative projects, to include performing testing on 3D printed parts for military motors, collaborating with companies like GE on aircraft parts, as well as other businesses for innovations like 3D printed airway mats. Today, soldiers are being trained to use many different types of 3D printers and master additive manufacturing processes for the creation of functional parts that can be used in maintenance and repairs while in the field.

The University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) is a primary project partner, with both Open Additive and UDRI members of America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

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[Source / Images: Open Additive]

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