Additive Manufacturing

Program Overview: Extra-Large, Metal Additive Manufacturing System, Targeted Towards Army Ground Vehicle Systems

by Ricardo X. Rodriguez; Corrine Wells; Robert H. Carter Ph.D.; Aaron D. LaLonde Ph.D.; Curtis W. Goffinski; Chase D. Cox; Tim S. Bell; Norbert J. Kott; Jason S. Gorey; Peter A. Czech; Klaus Hoffmann; Larry (LJ) R. Holmes


The Applied Science and Technology Research Organization of America (ASTRO America), Ingersoll Machine Tool (Ingersoll), MELD Manufacturing (MELD), Siemens Digital Industries (Siemens), The American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMII), and the US Army CCDC-GVSC have partnered to show the feasibility of fabricating very large metal parts using a combination of additive and subtractive manufacturing technologies. The Army seeks new manufacturing technology to support supply chain strategy objectives to replace costly inventories and reduce lead times. While additive manufacturing (AM) has demonstrated production of metallic parts for military applications, the scale of these demonstrations is much smaller than required for large vehicle components and/or complete vehicle hull structures. Leveraging AM for large scale applications requires enhancements in the size, speed, and precision of the current commercially available state-of-the-art equipment. This program requires new AM system capabilities that can address large scale metallic components and performance requirements to create joint-free hulls for tanks and automotive requirements, such as the next generation combat vehicles (NGCV). Under the program, two machine tools will be discussed for their use in the development and fabrication of prototype components that will be comparatively tested against conventionally built subsystems. This program’s success will be measured by the AM system’s capabilities to enable and produce innovative performance enhancing part designs, the resulting parts’ performance, as well as the time and cost required for part production. When considering very large scale (i.e. > 1m3) metallic components, the full production life cycle has to be accounted for; namely heat treatment and dimensional machining present two obstacles for producing desired parts rapidly. In anticipation of these challenges, the novel system is being built around MELD’s patented solid-state processing technology, which processes material at lower thermal histories. This paper will provide a general overview of the large scale system being developed, as well as some preliminary material analysis of aluminum alloys deposited from the MELD system. Future, development directions are also discussed at the conclusion.