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AlphaSTAR Awarded Phase II DoD Program Focused on Design of New Alloys for Additive Manufacturing Applications

IRVINE, CALIFORNIA, (1/6/2022) – AlphaSTAR is pleased to announce a DoD Phase II program award by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) for design of new alloys in Additive Manufacturing entitled ‘Grain Boundary Engineering for Additive Manufacturing’. This effort is in collaboration with GE Research: the hub of innovation for GE, University of Southern California (USC) Viterbi Center for Advanced Manufacturing, University of Michigan (UoM) Aerospace Engineering and Quadrus Corporation. The award will continue Phase I efforts in the development of technologies which can predetermine the microstructure of AM metal parts with optimal grain boundaries, resulting in predictable mechanical properties, including mode of failure for enhanced AM fabrication.

AM technology is relatively new to manufacturing and has hurdles to overcome before universal adoption as a replacement to traditional manufacturing. Due to the variability in the mechanical properties of additively
manufactured metal parts, understanding the microstructure development & evolution during the AM process of metallic alloys is an important precondition for the optimization of parameters to achieve desired mechanical properties in AM builds.

Director of Technical Operations at AlphaSTAR, Dr. Rashid Miraj, explains “Metallic alloys consist of individual crystallites commonly referred to as grains. Individual grain connections (grain boundaries) are formed through recrystallization during metal part fabrication and heat treatment. A grain boundary is the interface between two grains, or crystallites. Grain boundaries influence the mechanical properties of the metal; hence, certain grain boundaries are preferred over others. Grain boundary engineering (GBE) in additive manufacturing refers to methodologies and technologies associated with the build process or post-build heat treatments that drive and generate preferred microstructure outcomes associated with an AM fabricated part. At its simplest, AM GBE may be achieved through variation of the build process that address both heating and cooling and triggers nanoprecipitation and material transformation”. According to Dr. Miraj, “This technology will result in significant advancements related to the design of new parts and the repair of old parts associated with DoD supply chain. GBE for AM has the potential to increase the flexibility, scalability, and capability of AM produced parts.”

The ultimate objective of this Phase II program is to establish material performance screening, selection and
improvement of AM driven legacy parts. Furthermore, it will continue to improve the developed ICME software, GENOA 3DP, which reduces trial & error in the AM process, and accelerates the cycle time for part qualification and materials development.

Continued development of this critical technology will apply to all DoD sectors looking to improve the quality and reliability of AM parts to assist our Warfighters.

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