N221-062 TITLE: Universal Environmental Controls for AM Machines
OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Materials / Processes
OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate innovative technology to mitigate or eliminate environmental effects on Additive Manufacturing (AM) machines, as well as the effects AM machines have on their environment, through the use of modular controls that can be implemented as needed to augment Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) AM equipment for Navy use. This can be achieved by integrating COTS and or custom hardware into AM equipment to support Navy environments.
DESCRIPTION: The Navy develops specifications and standards for AM and the development of shipboard AM capabilities. The ability to produce components while at sea drastically reduces the burden on the supply and requisition systems while increasing platforms' abilities to complete missions. Currently, AM equipment suitable for afloat use is limited to small capacity, polymer-based, material extrusion systems. These systems were selected and integrated based on the fact that they are low cost, generally small, and easily integrated into existing platforms. These machines were installed to support the development of low risk, non-critical components in an effort to reduce supply chain burden and prove the concept of AM at sea. There are increased needs for AM afloat as explicitly mentioned in the NAVSEA Campaign Plan to Expand the Advantage 3.0 [Ref 1] as a technology focus area. This SBIR topic directly supports efforts to integrate AM into the Fleet and support a more self-sufficient ship. In addition, per the strategic document "A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0" [Ref 2] requires the Navy to maximize use of AM to fabricate "hard to source" or obsolete parts, reduce cost, field more effective systems, and reduce reliance on vulnerable supply chains through production at the point of need.
Currently, there is a need to mitigate or eliminate the environmental effect on AM machines and the effects AM machines have on their environment. The NAVSEA 05T AM Afloat program will benefit from a collection of equipment or systems that can be applied as standardized controls applicable to all polymer AM equipment. These controls will be installed/integrated to reduce safety and integration risks as well as increase use of AM equipment onboard Navy platforms and Shoreside facilities. As AM equipment is integrated in both afloat and shore based environments there is an increasing need for environmental controls to mitigate Shock, Vibration, ships motion, as well as temperature and humidity on AM machines. In addition, there is a need to mitigate Ultrafine Particles (UFPs) I.e. particles with a diameter < 100 nm,Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emissions, EMI, and machine noise from AM equipment during operation. This topics is specifically interested in keeping machine noise below 85 decibels per OSHA standards [Ref 15].
The Navy environments, both Afloat and Shoreside, can have adverse effects on AM machines and their ability to produce parts consistently and accurately. The AM machines can also have adverse effects on their surrounding environment, which may impact nearby equipment or personnel, to include UFPs and VOCs emissions. Fortunately, control processes can be put in place to reduce and/or mitigate these risks. Such controls or mitigations vary based on AM process, machine type, and the environment they are installed in. As a result, these controls or mitigations must be modular or configurable to support a variety of scenarios. AM machines are not currently developed with the Navy in mind and therefore do not meet military standards or have environmental controls in place from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). However, due to the rate at which technology changes, it is not feasible to expect every AM machine to meet military standards. It is more sustainable for AM machines to use modular controls that can be implemented as needed to augment COTS AM equipment for Navy use. In addition, standardized filtration systems for polymer AM equipment is either non-existent, or relies on filtration technology with little modeling and simulation to ensure the filters are adequately removing the UFP and VOC emissions produced by the AM equipment. In many cases, High-Efficiency Particulate Absorbing (HEPA) filters sufficiently capture the UFPs emissions. Unfortunately, ensuring the UFPs actually make it to the HEPA filters is where there is significant uncertainty. As this equipment becomes more prevalent shipboard, UFP and VOC emissions control will become paramount to ensure the safety of the crew when using these machines. Furthermore, the standards and baselines by which the equipment is tested are currently in the early stages of research, and a better understanding of the requirements for filtration and duration of filtration must also be investigated. Additionally, AM equipment may cause electromagnetic interference (EMI) or acoustic issues while onboard Navy platforms.
These machines and the controls applied will be tested at Navy facilities or by Government contractors who are certified to test at the Mil Standards listed below. In addition, the controls will be tested on multiple machine types determined by the Navy based on applicability. Prototype solutions delivered to the Government for shipboard integration testing must comply with all MIL-STDs in the references section of this topic. The solutions delivered to the Government must include all applicable equipment to be tested. For example, if the mitigation solution is physically attached to a piece of AM equipment, the solution must also include the AM equipment to be tested.
MIL-STDs tested against:
PHASE I: Define and develop a conceptual system capable of environmental control/mitigation that is tailorable to the integration scenario (shipboard, expeditionary, or maintenance/shop environment). Formulate supportive modeling and simulations for feasibility and verification. Develop notional Computer Aided Design (CAD) designs (as appropriate), bill of materials, and build plans, to support the conceptual system. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.
PHASE II: Using the deliverables from Phase I, produce and deliver four (4) functional prototypes of environmental controls to be tested. These Prototypes must be modular and/or tailorable to support integration of AM equipment into shipboard (surface/undersea), expeditionary, or maintenance environments. Include a sensor suite capable of determining various environmental conditions and printer-induced environmental impacts (VOCs, UPFs, etc.). Provide integration plans, initial installation, operational, and maintenance documentation to support prototype systems. Provide test and verification data indicating that controls properly mitigate or eliminate environmental effects on AM machines as well as effects AM machines have on their environment.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Stand up a production line of tailorable, physical environmental controls to support the integration of AM equipment into shipboard, expeditionary, and maintenance environments with a minimum production run that is able to support existing shipboard equipment at the time of Phase II completion. Provide the ability to test and validate environmental effects caused by shipboard AM equipment and mitigation solutions. Offer the expanded development of an environmental standard for mitigation requirements in the shipboard environment. The ability to tailor controls for different machines and different environments will enable NAVSEA 05T to safely and rapidly integrate AM equipment on Navy platforms and Shoreside. This capability will ultimately support the Navy’s adoption of AM across the fleet and into the future as technology evolves to support just in time delivery of components necessary to complete the mission. The solution(s) developed under this SBIR topic could transition to various industries leveraging polymer AM in their business. Filtration of the UPFs and VOC emission will be a commercially marketable product not specific to DON requirements. In addition, the environmental mitigation controls implemented could transition to other DOD or commercial entities operating in fluctuating or dynamic environments that require control of the temperature and humidity of the AM platform. Since development of this solution(s) is around COTS equipment, AM OEMs may also be interested in the technology developed.
KEYWORDS: Additive Manufacturing; Volatile Organic Compounds; Ultrafine Particles; UFP; Volatile Organic Compounds; VOC; Environmental Controls; Atmospheric Monitoring; Shipboard Motion
** TOPIC NOTICE **
The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 22.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.
The DoD issued its 22.1 SBIR BAA pre-release on December 1, 2021, which opens to receive proposals on January 12, 2022, and closes February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est).
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