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EWI Leads Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul Program with the USAF

March 25, 2024

This past September, EWI was awarded a $17 million, 3-year contract with the U.S. Air Force to develop convergent manufacturing (CM) platforms for maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) sustainment. The project is now being managed under the auspices of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Technical development work is already taking place at EWI’s labs in Columbus and Buffalo, with testing and evaluation to be carried out at three Air Force Logistics Centers. Partnering contractors include the South Carolina Research Authority, VRC Metal Systems, and The Ohio State University, among others.

This project, the biggest government contract that EWI has ever undertaken, has the potential to accelerate advancement of manufacturing technology faster than ever before through convergent manufacturing. CM platforms synergistically combine multiple technologies, materials, and processes (e.g., additive, subtractive, and transformative) into one platform using digital manufacturing tools and models. A CM system designed for MRO will extend life of critical parts, address low volume/specialty-part demand for legacy aircraft, reduce manhour requirements, and improve efficiencies within the Air Force’s repair locations.

For the past several years, EWI’s internal R&D program has been actively expanding work in convergent systems such as robotic welding and DED, in-process monitoring and inspection, and informatics/digital thread. The MRO project provides an opportunity to create more robust, comprehensive platforms for sustainment use while drawing on our wide range of technical capabilities. The results will yield solutions that incorporate robotic/automated CM testbeds, process models, sensors, support processes, and application procedures for thermal spray (TS), nitrogen cold spray (N-CS), nondestructive testing/evaluation (NDT/NDE), arc welding, powder laser (PL), directed energy deposition (DED), and informatics and digital thread (I & DT) workflows for CM MRO applications.

“We are excited to work with the Air Force on this signature program to build a critical sustainment infrastructure for our country’s defense,” says Mark Schimming, EWI VP of Government Business. “Not only will the results positively impact military readiness for the warfighter, but they will also demonstrate solutions that can later be incorporated into the Defense Industrial Base supply chain and other industries faced with similar challenges.”

For more information about the Convergent Manufacturing Platform for Improved MRO Sustainment, contact Senior Project Manager Katie Hardin at [email protected].