As the use and importance of additive manufacturing (AM) continues to grow, so does the value of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII). In the year since NAMII opened its doors in Youngstown, OH, the institute has added 80 members to its roster, and continues to foster innovation in the 3D printing industry.
NAMII has announced a new call for projects, with $9 million in funding available for multiple awards. Interested parties should contact NAMII by September 27, with a proposal deadline of October 31. Selected projects should get underway early in 2014. The projects will focus on five different areas related to AM.
“Today’s announcement of NAMII’s second call for projects is the accumulation of months of focused work and in-depth analysis on two fronts that are intrinsically linked: The creation of a formal, member-driven project call process and the development of a National Additive Manufacturing Roadmap, our technology investment strategy,” said NAMII Director and NCDMM Vice President Ed Morris. “Both initiatives originated from NAMII’s efforts to capture the voice of our community, beginning in April with our initial Program Management Review (PMR) meeting, continuing at our RAPID appearance in June, and progressing throughout a series of NAMII member-only workshops held in July.”
The first area open for development is in design for AM. A fair number of CAD programs exist to assist designers and engineers in the creation of designs for 3D printing. NAMII is looking for members to develop modeling and simulation tools with the ability to “‘virtually’ evaluate and optimize process and product alternatives for reduced cost, schedule risk reduction and performance improvements.”
The second section of the call for projects is aimed at AM materials, and comes in two parts. The first part is an investigation into sustainable materials for AM, with an evaluation of how to best educate AM users on sustainable practices, and how to encourage those practices in the future. The second part of the call deals with gradient and tailored materials. NAMII claims it has identified a need for, “the development of metallic and/or polymeric complex parts created with gradient and tailored materials properties within one part/build that may be accomplished by varying process parameters or the use of different feedstock materials.”
The third area of focus is process and equipment. NAMII is calling for improvements to existing AM systems leading to a series of more efficient next-gen 3D printers, and specifically improvement in at least two areas such as speed, resolution or batch volume. Also included in this area is the desire for projects focused on commercial implementation of embedded electronics in AM-built parts, and energy management systems to reduce the cost and electricity needed to keep 3D printers up and running.
The fourth area open for development deals with non-destructive evaluation of 3D printed parts to ensure quality. Proposals in this area must include methods of evaluating complex parts. The final section of the call seeks to build a database on process and material properties. This database would be a national repository and would contribute to, “… the development of round robin collaborative testing of materials/processes that have high relevance to industry and high-market potential …”