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QuesTek Wins Air Force Research Lab Additive Manufacturing Modeling Challenge

The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and America Makes have announced that QuesTek Innovations has won the Additive Manufacturing Modeling Challenge “Macro-scale Structure-to-Properties Predictions” to improve the understanding and modeling capability of the complex linkage of process-structure-performance of AM built components.

The goal of the AFRL Challenge Series was to improve the accuracy of model predictions for metal additive manufacturing (AM) with INCONEL® 625 nickel-chromium alloy (IN625) as an example. Challenge participants were provided with high-pedigree calibration and validation datasets needed to develop new models directly related to predicting the internal structure and resultant performance of AM metallic components.

After reviewing the highly-competitive entries, the Challenge reviewers ranked QuesTek’s submission as Top Performer for the most accurate prediction of key material properties such as strength, elongation, and modulus of elasticity. The inputs provided to QuesTek were limited to printed component geometry and dimensions, alloy compositions, as-printed and heat-treated microstructures, surface roughness and porosity.

QuesTek’s strong technical team leveraged its Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) technologies, long history of modeling Ni-based Superalloys and in-house proprietary yield and ultimate strength model that incorporates grain size, solid solution strengthening and precipitation strengthening contributions, as well as a strain hardening model that predicts a material’s strain-stress relations.

QuesTek commends the AFRL and America Makes for their vision and recognition of the benefits of a computational modeling approach to enable a better understanding of metal AM challenges. For QuesTek, the AFRL Challenge request was timely, as the company had already been working to develop the modeling framework to enable such a predictive capability.

Dr. Jiadong Gong, QuesTek’s Technical Fellow and Manager of Modeling and Software Development stated, “QuesTek has successfully demonstrated the ability to predict microstructures and properties across a range of alloy systems in metal AM including nickel, aluminum, titanium and steel. We are aware of a significant market need for such a capability, and we are currently incorporating this into a comprehensive software package.” He added, “This package will be able to predict AM materials property and component performance by inputting powder chemistry, machine build parameters and subsequent thermal processing, and will enable rapid qualification of materials and components for critical applications.”

To date, QuesTek has been awarded more than 60 projects to understand the fundamental metallurgy and resolve the most pressing materials issues in metallic AM. In formulating its response to the AFRL Challenge, QuesTek drew on similar modeling efforts in DARPA’s Open Manufacturing project with Honeywell on Ni 718Plus, a NASA STTR project on IN718, as well as QuesTek’s role in the US Navy’s Quality Made program on IN625 nickel Superalloys.

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