America Makes Announces Awardee of Project Call

Goal is to innovate optical components using additive manufacturing.

Goal is to innovate optical components using additive manufacturing.

America Makes announces the awardee of its Additive for eXtreme Improvement in Optical Mounts (AXIOM) Project Call worth $841K in total funding to support the continued technological advantage of the U.S. Air Force (USAF).

Subject to the finalization of all contractual details and requirements, the selected America Makes AXIOM Project Call Awardee is the Raytheon Technologies (RTX) project team for its submission titled, Topology Optimized Reflective Optics (TORO).

The objective of the AXIOM Project Call is to innovate solutions that enhance the readiness of high-precision optical components used in sensors, space systems and other applications by developing and demonstrating novel designs enabled by additive manufacturing (AM).

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division, is funding the AXIOM Project. AFRL and the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), which manages America Makes, are targeting to make available approximately $560K with at least $281K in matching cost-share funds for total funding worth $841K.

“The AXIOM Project Call submissions were all very good and in line with our expectations given the complexity and various technical challenges put forth,” says America Makes Executive Director John Wilczynski. “Altogether, the submissions offered a range of unique and promising solutions. The awarded RTX-led proposal details an approach that includes numerous tasks, addressing the relevant technological gaps for the design and production of additively manufactured optical mounts. For the USAF, our membership community, and the broader supply chain, the anticipated outcomes of the RTX effort will be very transformative and valuable. We congratulate RTX and its team.”

Led by RTX, the project team includes Raytheon Intelligence and Space (RIS), Raytheon Missiles and Defense (RMD), and Raytheon Technologies Research Center (RTRC), in conjunction with nTopology, and Wichita State University–National Institute for Aviation Research (WSU-NIAR), seeks to advance strategic capabilities in optics through the development of the TORO program. By moving the industrial base from known conventional designs with exotic materials to exotic designs made possible by improvements in software workflows with conventional AM materials, TORO will use more accessible and less toxic materials in a laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) system to produce designs optimized for both performance and manufacturing.

The expected AM advances under the TORO program include reduced lead times as compared to conventional manufacturing and improved topology optimization (TO) and design for additive manufacturing (DFAM) that enable novel, requirements-driven capabilities for designing optimal optical mounts and components.

“The RTX TORO submission was a well-thought out effort,” says America Makes Technology Director Brandon Ribic, Ph.D. “We not only look forward to getting the project underway, but also continuing the discussion of how to best leverage additive manufacturing technologies for the benefit of those who rely on these complex components.”

The start date of the project is August 2020.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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