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DARPA Program Seeks to Address Variability in Additive Manufacturing Processes; Mick Maher Comments

DARPAThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched a program to study differences in manufacturing methods to help accelerate the development of three-dimensional printing technologies and other additively manufactured systems.

“The Open Manufacturing program is fundamentally about capturing and understanding the physics and process parameters of additive and other novel production concepts, so we can rapidly predict with high confidence how the finished part will perform,” Mick Maher, DARPA program manager at defense sciences office, said Friday.

“The reliability and run-to-run variability of new manufacturing techniques are always uncertain at first, and as a result we qualify these materials and processes using a blunt and repetitive ‘test and retest’ approach that is inevitably expensive and time-consuming, ultimately undermining incentives for innovation,” he added.

DARPA has said two of the program’s efforts — Rapid Low Cost Additive Manufacturing and Titanium Fabrication initiatives — focus on metal additive techniques, while the Transition Reliable Unitized Structure initiative concentrates on bonded composite systems.

The Open Manufacturing platform has set up two facilities at Penn State and the Army Research Laboratory to serve as reference repositories and testing centers that could be accessed by individuals seeking to develop bonded composite structures and additive manufactured components such as aircraft wings, according to the agency.

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