QuesTek Innovations LLC of Evanston, Ill., was awarded six separate projects from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army to develop technologies and design new alloys tailored to the processing conditions and material-related challenges of additive manufacturing (AM). These include one Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project, two SBIR Phase I projects and three Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I projects focused on aluminum, titanium and steel systems. The combined value of the contracts is over $2 million. QuesTek has been applying its integrated computational materials engineering (ICME) technologies and Materials by Design methodologies to design new alloys and optimize legacy alloys for AM.

The awarded projects include the following:

  • Under an Office of Naval Research-funded Phase II SBIR project (Topic N141-062) titled “Computational Design of Aluminum Alloys for use in Additive Manufacturing,” QuesTek is furthering the development of three QuesTek-designed aluminum alloys specifically for direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) AM processability. The goal of this program is to combine the processability of AlSiMg alloys, which can be printed without cracking but have low strength, with the high strength properties of 6061/7050 alloys, which crack during AM processes.
  • Under a U.S. Navy Phase I STTR project (Topic N16A-007) titled “Optimized High Performance Stainless Steel Powder for Additive Manufacturing,” QuesTek is developing a new powder specification for high-strength martensitic precipitation-hardenable 17-4 stainless steel, optimized specifically for selective laser melting (SLM) technologies, to meet mechanical performance requirements and address AM processing issues experienced by incumbent materials.
  • Under an ONR-funded Phase I STTR project (Topic N16A-022) titled “Integrated Computational Material Engineering Tool Set for Additive Manufacturing of Stainless Steel (316L),” QuesTek is developing an Integrated Model Toolkit that enables the modeling of AM processes by predicting local composition, microstructure, residual stresses, defects and mechanical properties for stainless steel 316L aerospace components.
  • Under a U.S. Army Phase I SBIR project (Topic A15-104) titled “Application of ICME to Optimize Processing of State-of-the-art Gear Steels in Additive Manufacturing,” QuesTek atomized, built via LENS and DMLS AM processes and evaluated its high-performance carburizable Ferrium C64 steel.
  • Under an ONR-funded Phase I SBIR project (Topic N161-071) titled “Additive Manufacturing Development of Naval Platform Heat Exchangers,” QuesTek is extending its ICME tools to evaluate materials for the DMLS production of heat exchangers. The project includes fabrication of test specimens to address one of the unique challenges to AM of heat exchangers: minimum component thickness.
  • Under a U.S. Navy Phase I STTR project (Topic N16A-004) titled “Quantifying Uncertainty in the Mechanical Performance of Additively Manufactured Parts Due to Material and Process Variation,” QuesTek is extending the accelerated insertion of materials (AIM) framework for managing the uncertainty of material properties to the mechanical performance of laser power-bed additively manufactured Ti-6Al-4V materials. The goal of the program is to develop a tool that can determine both property probability distributions and probability-distribution confidence intervals for AM parts.