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Additive Manufacturing and NIST

Thank you, Lyle. Welcome everyone!

NIST is excited to be hosting this inaugural symposium. And we’re pleased to have such a distinguished group of collaborators working with us on the Additive Manufacturing Bench Measurement project.

After 2½ years, we have 81 representatives from 58 organizations serving on AM-Bench committees from around the world. This type of support for industrial innovation is really our wheelhouse here at NIST.

As one of the world’s leading national measurement laboratories, we take pride in using the power of measurement to accelerate adoption of disruptive technologies like additive manufacturing. AM-Bench is doing that by marshaling the community toward a critically important shared goal.

Like any relatively new technology, additive manufacturing must be based on a bedrock of rigorously conducted measurements and validated test methods to ensure quality control. AM-Bench is helping provide that foundation to ensure that buyers and sellers of AM parts can efficiently make and buy high-quality components.

We’re grateful to our many partners in the effort, including the Department of Defense, NASA, the Department of Energy and a large number of industry, academic and nonprofit organizations.

In particular, I want to recognize a few of our AM-Bench partners here with us today, including the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society; the Naval Research Laboratory and the Army Research Laboratory.

I’d also like to acknowledge the strong commitment we’ve seen from industry in advancing this revolutionary technology from a great concept with tremendous promise to a fully mature, trusted manufacturing capability.

Consider AM-Bench partner company, GE.

The company has invested well over $1 billion in additive manufacturing, and later this morning, you will hear about their technical priorities from Ade Makinde, principal engineer of the GE Global Research Center.

The auto industry is fully pursuing additive manufacturing as well, and today you will hear from Anil Sachdev, manager of Light Metals at General Motors.

We’re also pleased to have several other senior industry and research laboratory representatives with us today:

  • Mark Cola, the president and CTO of Sigma Labs;
  • John Michopoulos, head of the Computational Multiphysics Systems Lab at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory; and
  • Victor Oancea, the R&D technology director of SIMULIA.  

This is the right time and the right place for major advances in additive manufacturing. The field is growing rapidly with revenues from products and services predicted to exceed $6.5 billion by 2019.

To make sure those products and services perform as expected, we need to achieve greater consistency across the field. Ultimately, it’s a research, standards and measurement problem, and that’s why NIST is the right organization to be convening this effort.

For anyone in the audience who may not know that much about us, NIST is often called industry’s national lab. We’re part of the Department of Commerce, and our mission is to accelerate innovation and economic growth. We do this by performing world-class research at the frontiers of measurement science and technology every day. We then use that expertise to help industry continuously improve their products and services.

It may also be comforting to know that this is not NIST’s first rodeo. NIST traces its roots to the founding of our nation — to Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. 

When we were created by Congress as the National Bureau of Standards in 1901, the task then was supporting the emerging use of electricity for lighting to replace gas lamps. Since then, we’ve helped create the quality control and measurement infrastructure for just about every major technology we depend on daily.

Semiconductors, wireless communications, computer security, food and building safety, forensic science, biopharmaceuticals, the Internet of Things and the smart electric power grid — these are just few of the areas where NIST has had — and continues to have — a major impact.

Why do measurements matter so much?

Measurements help us describe the properties of a product or service in enough detail to better understand and improve performance. Measurement also provides a common set of practices and a common language to create industry consensus standards. These standards are critical because they help build confidence in the marketplace.

Additive manufacturing has already found many applications.  But its use in fields like aerospace, automotive and biomedical areas has lagged because of a lack of validated data and computer models that can accurately predict the performance of final products. Unlike most manufacturing methods, additive manufacturing cannot depend on computer models to supplement and improve physical production methods.

Of course, in this field, a product can’t even be produced without a validated computer model, and that’s the rub. Every manufacturer’s system works a bit differently, every computer model is implemented a bit differently, and every finished product therefore performs a bit differently.

AM-Bench is helping solve these issues, and we’re very grateful to everyone who has already signed up to participate.

Software companies are looking to NIST to provide critical measurement data for validating and guiding the simulations used for developing additive manufacturing processes.

Manufacturing companies are looking to NIST for measurement assistance for evaluating the performance of additive manufacturing processes in situ, while the parts are being built.

And NIST researchers are carefully characterizing the finished parts, with state-of-the-art and beyond state-of-the-art instruments. The resulting data sets will be available to any company or organization interested in validating their models and manufacturing methods.

We’ve also enlisted the help of other federal facilities like Los Alamos National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory, and research universities like Cornell. They have helped by using their specialized facilities to measure important quantities like residual stress or the internal structure of materials in a finished part.

We want to use your good ideas and expertise as well.

Lyle Levine, our project leader for this effort, will shortly be issuing a call for new benchmark measurements. What materials properties are you struggling to control adequately? What AM equipment parameters require greater reliability? What performance measures need improved validation methods?

Helping with this broad effort to improve additive manufacturing methods and products will help the entire community and the economy. Together we achieve so much more than we can individually.

Thanks for your efforts and your interest.  I look forward to hearing about your progress in AM Bench. 

Thank you!

Created June 20, 2018, Updated August 20, 2018