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Development of Materials for Metallic Direct Digital Manufacturing


OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate new high performance, aerospace grade alloys suitable for direct digital manufacturing (DDM) DESCRIPTION: Direct digital manufacturing (DDM) processes can create complex, three-dimensional parts akin to castings, but without the high costs and logistical difficulties associated with the production and maintenance of larger-scale manufacturing facilities (e.g., foundries). However, the range of alloys that DDM can be applied to is currently highly limited and oftentimes accompanied by significant property sacrifices relative to the baseline (wrought or cast) alloys [1]. Additionally, the certification of DDM-produced components for airworthiness is time-consuming and expensive [2]. With recent advances in computational materials design [3] and process-structure-property modeling [4], the Navy is interested in the development of high performance materials specifically developed for DDM. Materials of interest include titanium, steel, and aluminum alloys for critical Navy aerospace applications such as airframe structures, helicopter rotor components, and other components of interest. The new materials should demonstrate similar (if not better) static and fatigue properties to incumbent alloys (wrought or cast). New materials may address current alloys'drawbacks and issues, such as aluminum evaporation during production with Ti6Al4V. PHASE I: Develop DDM suitable high performance, aerospace grade alloys addressing process concerns such as material's directional characteristics (isotropic vs. orthotropic). Demonstrate the feasibility of approach with limited coupon testing. PHASE II: Perform further computational alloy concept refinement and optimization, assisted with subscale prototypes. Produce prototypes using rapid manufacturing methodology and measure relevant properties to establish a comparison with incumbent alloys. Prototype parts should demonstrate significant production size. Devise a plan/algorithm to rapidly qualify DDM components of varying geometries. PHASE III: Fully develop and qualify the new DDM alloy. Collaborate with relevant Navy structural and material engineers to apply the technology for the selected component(s). Additional testing necessary to qualify the material and process for service application could be performed. Establish qualification process for first articles of production parts. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The development method along with the database of test results for the building blocks of various properties, geometric shapes and sizes will be a marketable tool. It will be tied to the particular DDM alloy and can be marketed to all private and public sector industries that can benefit from DDM as a lower-cost alternative to more-traditional production and manufacturing methods.
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