Redstone additive manufacturing partnership seeks technological edge

AMRDEC Military Deputy Director Lt. Col. John Schmitt provided opening remarks at the Team Redstone IPT Additive Manufacturing Workshop held June 15 at the UAH Shelby Center.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (June 29, 2016) — Additive manufacturing has been described as a potential game-changer for the U.S. federal government and national security.

The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, with the Redstone Additive Manufacturing Integrated Product Team, hosted a Team Redstone AM Workshop at the UAH Shelby Center June 15 to build relationships, foster further collaboration and reduce unnecessary duplication of efforts. Participants heard ongoing AM efforts at AMRDEC, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the Army Materiel Command, Defense Acquisition University, UAH, as well as briefs from local industry representatives.

Additive manufacturing refers to the process of using digital 3-D design data to build up a component by depositing successive layers of liquid, powder, paper, or sheet material. Through the IPT, AMRDEC is able to send personnel to MSFC’s advanced manufacturing lab to get hands on experience with their polymer and metal additive manufacturing machines.

Manufacturing Science and Technology Division Additive Manufacturing Lead, Katherine Olson presented AMRDEC updates and ongoing AM efforts at the workshop.

“With additive manufacturing, engineers are no longer limited in design by what can be traditionally manufactured,” said Katherine Olson, Manufacturing Science and Technology Division Additive Manufacturing Lead. “This enables design complexity — organic shaped components optimized for performance, light-weighting, and frequency tailoring. Additive manufacturing enables extreme manufacturing cycle time reductions, at times by as much as 80 percent, because the technology is tool-less and greatly reduces the number of manufacturing operations.”

Leaders from AMRDEC and MSFC established the Redstone IPT in May 2014. The team meets on a consistent basis to stay current on changes in the field. The IPT’s mission is to engage in research and development efforts to ensure that Team Redstone can capitalize on the rapid advancements in this technology.

Lt. Col. John Schmitt, AMRDEC military deputy director, explained adapting to manufacturing more rapidly than our adversaries will be essential in retaining our technological edge.

“Leveraging disruptive technologies like additive manufacturing, the digital thread, and in-situ metrology for manufacturing will not only blow open the design space in revolutionary and innovative ways, but will be the vital key to transition the exponential growth of technology into products and the production line,” Schmitt said.

AMRDEC and MSFC have also collaborated on topics including printed electronics, printed bi-metallic materials, and qualification and certification of additively manufactured components.

“One of the biggest challenges is tackling the qualification and certification standards for critical parts, but we will get there and continuous open dialogue in forums like this will be crucial,” said Schmitt.

The next Redstone AM IPT will be held in August at the Joint Army-Navy-NASA-Air Force Additive Manufacturing for Propulsion Applications Technical Interchange Meeting. The October meeting of the IPT is tentatively scheduled to be hosted by Carpenter Materials in Athens, Alabama. Carpenter is a leading supplier of metal powders for the AM industry.

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The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

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