Novel Feedstock Production System for Metallic Additive Manufactured Structural Parts and Repairs

Navy SBIR 21.2 - Topic N212-107
NAVAIR - Naval Air Systems Command
Opens: May 19, 2021 - Closes: June 17, 2021 (12:00pm edt)

N212-107 TITLE: Novel Feedstock Production System for Metallic Additive Manufactured Structural Parts and Repairs

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Air Platforms;Materials / Processes;Weapons

OBJECTIVE: Develop a novel low-cost, high-yield metallic-powder production system capable of rapidly producing small batches (i.e., tens of grams to hundreds of kilograms) of feedstock for Additive Manufactured (AM) structural parts and repairs.

DESCRIPTION: Current production systems are capital and labor intensive, making the powders inordinately expensive, especially for small batches. The AM powders are also very costly with limited availability due to low yield and the needs for specific, high-quality, narrow particle size distributions (PSD) that are optimal for each AM process. For instance, the powder particles are usually specified with a size range of 15-45 m diameter (dia.) for Laser Beam Melted (LBM)/Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) process, 45-106 m dia. for Electron Beaming Melting (EBM)/PBF, and 45-75 m dia. for Directed Energy Deposition (DED)/Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS).

In the academic and research arena, the lack of willing powder producers, long lead time, and high cost for low-quantity orders severely hinder the ability to rapidly validate and optimize the chemical compositions, microstructures, and mechanical performance for various material designs. To accelerate the performance optimization and verification of new alloy designs, high-quality feedstock in affordable small batches needs to be readily obtained for build trials.

As AM is adopted by more and more manufacturers, part designs will become more diversified and customized. There will be lower manufacturing volume of custom designed parts and assemblies as compared to the traditional mass production. A similar trend will also develop for new alloys used for different future applications. There will be more demand for alloys that are specifically designed for specific applications and less for standard alloys. This will drive the production of feedstock toward smaller scales and perhaps distributed where it is needed.

In the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), and fleet sustainment communities, the availability of small quantity supply with short-turnaround time without the needs for provisioning and storage is essential for timely part replacement and repairs.

A low-cost, small-batch, high-yield feedstock production system for AM processing is required. The targeted cost for a production unit should be in the range of $10Ks to low $100Ks. The system must be user-friendly, and provide sufficient adjustable controls, coupled with integrated internal monitoring sensors, to assure consistent and uniform high-quality powders (Refs. 10-13) (e.g., particle size distribution, sphericity, internal porosity, surface roughness, oxygen level, amount of satellite particles that adhere to spherical powders, flowability). It must also be capable of making high-yield (50% or greater), small batches (tens of grams to hundreds of kilograms) of traditional metallic powders (e.g., Ti64, 17-4PH SS, IN718, AlSi10Mg), as well as specialty designed alloys. Integrated Computational Material Engineering (ICME)-based modeling & simulation (M & S) of the powder fabrication process should be utilized to support the system design and development.

PHASE I: Develop and design a low-cost, small-batch, high-yield powder production system for metal AM applications. Perform system design, M & S, and associated experimental testing to validate the concept (Refs. 14 & 15). Generate preliminary performance and system specifications for the proposed design including powder handling, storage, and disposal procedures. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop, design and prototype a complete powder production system for AM applications. Demonstrate that the metallic powders can be successfully used for AM of aircraft components. Update performance and system specifications and special handling procedures including powder handling, storage, and disposal procedures.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Conduct final system checkout and acceptance testing. Perform production demonstration for multiple types of materials and alloys. Finalize performance and system specifications and special handling procedures.

This topic has a great and widespread potential benefit to commercial sectors ranging from academic research arena to the automobile industry.


  1. Dietrich, S., Wunderer, M., Huissel, A. and Zaeh, M. F. "A new approach for a flexible powder production for additive manufacturing." Procedia Manufacturing, Vol. 6, 2016, pp. 88-95.
  2. Anderson, I. E., White, E. M. H. and Dehoff, R. "Feedstock powder processing research needs for additive manufacturing development." Current Opinion in Solid State and Materials Science, 22(1), February 2018, pp. 8-15.
  3. Kotlyarov, V. I., Beshkarev, V. T., Kartsev, V. E., Ivanov, V. V., Gasanov, A. A., Yuzhakova, E. A., Samokhin, A. V., Fadeev, A. A., Alekseev, N. V., Sinayskiy, M. A. and Tretyakov, E. V. "Production of spherical powders on the basis of group IV metals for additive manufacturing." Inorganic Materials: Applied Research, 8(3), 2017, pp. 452-458.
  4. Sun, P., Fang, Z. Z., Zhang, Y. and Xia, Y. "Review of the methods for production of spherical Ti and Ti alloy powder." Journal of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (JOM), 69(10), August 15, 2017, pp. 1853-1860.
  5. Sungkhaphaitoon, P., Plookphol, T and Wisutmethangoon, S. "Design and development of a centrifugal atomizer for producing zinc metal powder." International Journal of Applied Physics and Mathematics, 2(2), 2012, pp. 77-82.
  6. Yang, S., Gwak, J. N., Lim, T. S., Kim, Y. J. and Yun, J. Y. "Preparation of spherical titanium powders from polygonal titanium hydride powders by radio frequency plasma treatment." Materials Transactions, 54(12), 2013, pp. 2313-2316.
  7. Backmark, U., Backstrom, N. and Arnberg, L. "Production of Metal Powder by Ultrasonic Gas Atomization." (Retroactive Coverage). Powder Metallurgy International, 18(6), pp. 422-424.
  8. Kumar, M. and Pandey, A. B. "Ultrasonic Gas Atomization: Pros and Cons." Key Engineering Materials, Vol. 29, 1988, pp. 1-8.
  9. Clyne, T. W., Ricks, R. A. and Goodhew, P. J. "The production of rapidly-solidified aluminum powder by ultrasonic gas atomization." Heat and Fluid-Flow. International Journal of Rapid Solidification, 1(1), January 1984, pp. 59-80.
  10. SAE AMS7002 Process Requirements for Production of Metal Powder Feedstock for Use in Additive Manufacturing of Aerospace Parts,
  11. ASTM F2924-14, Standard Specification for Additive Manufacturing Titanium-6 Aluminum-4 Vanadium with Powder Bed Fusion, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2014,
  12. ASTM F3184-16, Standard Specification for Additive Manufacturing Stainless Steel Alloy (UNS S31603) with Powder Bed Fusion, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2016,
  13. ASTM F3055-14a, Standard Specification for Additive Manufacturing Nickel Alloy (UNS N07718) with Powder Bed Fusion, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2014,
  14. ASTM F3049-14, Standard Guide for Characterizing Properties of Metal Powders Used for Additive Manufacturing Processes, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2014,
  15. ASTM F3318-18, Standard for Additive Manufacturing Finished Part Properties Specification for AlSi10Mg with Powder Bed Fusion Laser Beam, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2018,

KEYWORDS: Additive Manufacturing; Powders; Metals; Feedstock Production; Small Batch


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