Additive manufacturing (AM) is a novel process of fabricating components in a layer-by-layer method under the control of computer-aided design (CAD) information rather than by the traditional casting methods. The transition of AM technology from production of prototypes to production of critical parts is hindered by a lack of confidence in the quality of the part. In the push to commercialize the AM technology, currently available systems are based largely on hand-tuned parameters determined by trial-and-error for a limited set of materials. QuesTek along with University of Pittsburgh as the partner will develop an integrated experimental and analytical (model-based) technologies for process optimization and qualification of additive manufacturing. In the Phase I of the program, modeling framework for yield strength of AM IN718 was developed and validated experimentally. Building on the success of Phase I and utilizing the already established framework, additional models for toughness, fatigue and cracking will be developed to perform an overall qualification of AM IN718. The developed Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) framework combines QuesTek’s Materials by Design and Accelerated Insertion of Materials (AIM) technologies to accelerate the adoption of AM.
The proposed innovation should enable faster adoption of additive manufacturing in various NASA missions. The increased mechanistic understanding of the process and the modeling of associated uncertainty within the process would result in accelerated qualification of AM materials for use especially in aerospace applications, where the qualification requirements are demanding. Due to the inherently material agnostic ICME approach, the developed methods and tools for IN718 in the current program can easily be expanded to other materials of interest, increasing its applicability in the industry. The current program would help in generation of a standard qualified metallurgical process for AM IN718 leading to the development of a Material Property Suite and helping in defining the design allowables and process control requirements.
Beyond NASA, a software tool that will be developed under this program will integrate similarly into the existing AM supply chain, specifically with AM and materials researchers and producers, AM service bureaus who supply powders and components, major OEMs with AM capabilities, and other entities specifically involved with developing AM process prediction and modeling tools. The developed tools and methods can be used by OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), where they can incorporate it in their work flow to reduce cost and time for qualification, reduce rejections by better process controls and understanding, thus adding great value. In the Phase II of the program, Honeywell Aerospace (attached letter of support) will provide valuable feedback for the development of the tool and how it can be can be applied to realistic aerospace applications. Apart from the aerospace industry, the developed tool can be applied to other industries like biomedical, automobile, power generation etc. too, where AM is also gaining traction. Overall the developed tool will enable the acceleration of AM technologies in general across industry segments.