Additive Manufacturing (AM)
or “3D printing” (as it is known in more general circles) is a swiftly maturing manufacturing technology that has evolved from rapid prototyping over the past 30 years. EWI established the Additive Manufacturing Consortium (AMC) in 2010 with a mission of accelerating and advancing the manufacturing readiness of metal additive manufacturing (AM) technology. The AMC is a national consortium of industry, government, academic and non-profit research organizations. It is operated by EWI based in Columbus, Ohio.
The AMC brings together a diverse group of AM end users, suppliers, researchers, and stakeholders across academia, government, and industry to positively impact the AM landscape through organized and focused activities. Specific goals are to (1) foster technical interchange by presenting timely cases studies and current research efforts at quarterly meetings; (2) execute group sponsored, pre-competitive research projects within the AMC; (3) collaborate on government funding opportunities; and (4) provide a forum for discussing and shaping industrial and government roadmaps that define future funding.
The AMC continues to focus on addressing the technical challenges in advancing metal additive manufacturing processes such as powder bed fusion, and directed energy deposition using lasers, arc and electron beams and solid state processes such as ultrasonic additive manufacturing. Because the AMC sees value in learning from other material systems and processes, discussion also includes technical topics in other additive manufacturing processes outside of metal material systems. The AMC’s technical focus is a benefit to both experienced AM users/ practitioners and those just beginning to explore the technology.
The cornerstone of the AMC is technical discussion and advancement surrounding AM technologies. Members, partners and invited guests meet quarterly to discuss a relevant technical theme. These events include one day of technical talks, tours, and a business meeting, plus an informal social event to encourage extended conversation and promote collaboration. Meetings are hosted at both EWI and research partner sites, and are often held in conjunction with other AM-themed seminars sponsored by the partner organization. The AMC coordinates internal technology gap analyses on an annual basis to define collaborative research projects within and external to the AMC. Member dues and contributions are directed toward the execution of joint technical projects. These AMC projects, managed by EWI technical and program management staff, provide an opportunity to leverage member and government funds and contributions. Summary results and presentations are available to all AMC members. Past projects have included Inconel 625, Inconel 718, and Monel 400 theme development, heat treatment optimization, machine variability, and design allowable database generation.
The AMC project portfolio continues to focus on addressing common, pre-competitive technical challenges in metal AM processes. Projects are focused on materials and processes. Members have access to $2.2 million in project funding. Some of the efforts funded by the AMC in 2017 include the following:
- Nondestructive Post-process Evaluation (NDE) of AM Parts investigates four common NDE techniques – ultrasound (UT), eddy current (ET), pulsed thermography (PdTh), and computed tomography (CT) for examination of laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) Inconel 625 (In625) specimens with pre-designed imbedded defects for technology qualification.
- AM Powder Recycling and Reconditioning for L-PBF focuses on two aspects of powder reconditioning: 1) using Tekna’s plasma induction system to improve morphology and evaluate effects on chemical composition of the powder, and 2) blending used and virgin powder in varying proportions to evaluate its effect on powder reconditioning.
- In-process Monitoring and Rectification of Defects in L-PBF focuses on the development of methods for in-process detection and rectification of open-to-surface defects in L-PBF processes. EWI will take advantage of their previous work that consists of over three years and over 2.5 million dollars of government and internal funding.
- High-strength Aluminum Alloys for L-PBF. A project was initiated to develop laser-based powder bed fusion process parameters for high-strength aluminum alloys. The AMC will execute a test program to evaluate and develop build parameters for aluminum alloy materials with properties equivalent to 7000 series aluminum alloys.
An annual membership is required to participate in AMC meetings. As of February 2017, the consortium has 36 full members from the USA, Europe, South America, and Asia.
- Heavy Industry
Small Business and Supplier Members
- AM Equipment
- AM Ancillary Equipment
- AM Technical Service Providers
Membership benefits include exclusive invitation to meetings, access to technical presentations and development activities, and non-exclusive license to joint intellectual property developed under the AMC. Members who fund or contribute to a project receive direct access to all data and more frequent updates to project results.
The results of projects are reported quarterly at AMC meetings. In addition, all members are encouraged to present results of other, non-AMC sponsored AM activities, to promote technical interchange. Finally, government and university research partners are available to participate on AMC projects.