America Makes has appointed GE Global Research to lead a project focusing on scaling up additive manufacturing (AM) for aerospace and defense applications.

The 3D printing organization plans to invest US$2.1 million to the company as well as the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) at Pennsylvania State University and GE Additive.

The objective of the project is reportedly to overcome the shortcomings of selective laser melting (SLM) additive manufacturing (AM) that limit the wider adoption of the technology for production. While the technology can produce defense components with complex shapes made from a multitude of alloys, featuring high mechanical properties and fine microstructures, the small build volumes and lengthy production times of single laser SLM machines are hindering their use, the company said. While single-laser SLM machines are entering the market with increased build volumes, a strategy for developing multi-laser solutions is required. The aim of the projecy will be to develop an open source, multi-laser manufacturing research platform to help identify best practices and improve part production efficiency.

GE Global Research and its team will integrate the results of three previous America Makes programs into a commercially-available powder bed fusion additive manufacturing (PBFAM) machine and deliver the machine to America Makes.

‘With the award of the America Makes ALSAM Directed Project to GE Global Research and its partners, as an industry, we are much closer toward having the mainstream ability to produce large scale components through multi-laser interaction,’ said John Wilczynski, America Makes technology director. ‘As a result, we will be able to meet the needs of not only the US Air Force and other military branches, but also the energy and automotive industries as well.’

The anticipated start date of the project is January 2019.

This story is reprinted from material from America Makes, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.