On Feb. 10, representatives of industry, government and academia gathered in Columbus, OH, for the Edison Welding Institute’s (EWI) Additive Manufacturing Consortium (AMC) Kick-Off Meeting. Despite the wintry weather, turnout for the event was strong, with all in attendance eager to discuss advances in additive manufacturing across many industries.

Mary Kinsella, Ph.D., senior materials research engineer for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, delivered the event’s keynote address, “Moving Forward: Additive Manufacturing for Aerospace Metals,” in which she discussed the relatively recent advent of additive manufacturing technologies and the potential impact these technologies have on everything from medical, aerospace and automotive to jewelry, gaming and sports industries. After detailing technologies of particular interest to the aerospace industry, Kinsella noted the challenges of implementing additive manufacturing as part of a business plan when the initial focus of any such initiative - due to both technical concerns and a scarcity of funds - falls on non-critical parts.

According to Kinsella, additive manufacturing needs to demonstrate a good return on investment in order to gain momentum in industry. The difficulty in this task is compounded, however, by financial concerns - hence the need for an industry-spanning additive manufacturing consortium. “None of us has deep pockets,” said Kinsella, “so we all need to collaborate where we can…all for the purpose of moving this technology forward.”

Other morning presentations included:
  • “Roadmap for Additive Manufacturing,” presented by Prof. David Rosen of the Rapid Prototyping & Mfg. Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology, which examined additive manufacturing from a historical standpoint and posed the question, Where will/should additive manufacturing be in 10-15 years?  The answer: much advanced.
  • “Additive Metals,” presented by Blake Slaughter, engineering scientist for the Boeing Co., which predicted good potential for additive metal technologies but stressed the importance of seeking mainstream acceptance as opposed to relying on niche markets.
  • “Direct Manufacturing at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co.,” presented by Craig A. Brice, materials engineer, which detailed projects in direct manufacturing that began at Lockheed Martin in 1998. This presentation noted the difficulty in applying additive manufacturing to larger components due to the need for cost-prohibitive, full-scale test models.
  • “Current State and Needs of Additive Manufacturing,” presented by Eric Fodran, Ph.D., materials and process engineer, Northrup Grumman, which challenged a conventional manufacturing route with rapid prototype, digital direct manufacturing (DDM), and additive manufacturing technologies that offer significant cost reductions, a tool-less process, and low buy-to-fly ratios, among other attributes.
After lunch and a brief supplier panel concerning equipment OEMs and contract manufacturers, Dr. Brent Stucker, an associate professor at Utah State University, presented “ASTM International F42 Committee on Additive Manufacturing Technologies.” Stucker’s presentation discussed ASTM International’s efforts to establish international standards for additive manufacturing and, in some cases, define terms. First on that list,additive manufacturing, defined by ASTM as:

(The) process of joining materials to make objects from 3-D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies. Synonyms: additive fabrication; additive processes; additive techniques; additive layer manufacturing; layer manufacturing; and freeform fabrication.1

GE Aviation Senior Engineer Chris English’s presentation, “An Overview of Additive Manufacturing at GE Aviation: The Need for Industry Collaboration in Overcoming Barriers,” explored the reasons for developing additive manufacturing technologies (reduced buy-to-fly ratios, rapid prototype capabilities, “greener” manufacturing) before examining the enablers and barriers to additive manufacturing implementation. The good news? According to English (citing the limited property data available), additive manufacturing offers good mechanical properties, lower material and machining costs, design flexibility (with design changes made electronically), and shorter lead times.

Finally, Chris Conrardy, EWI’s chief technology officer, offered an overview of the Additive Manufacturing Consortium in “Mission of the AMC.” Among the objectives of the AMC, Conrardy mentioned the desire to establish a center of excellence in the U.S. to advance additive manufacturing readiness. In terms of scope, the AMC’s technical activities, business support services and applications would be driven by consortium member priorities, and the organization’s role would be that of the hub in a wheel-like system of end users, material suppliers, government agencies, standards bodies, R&D organizations, and equipment suppliers.

For more information on the Additive Manufacturing Consortium, visitwww.ewi.org.