Research Reports

Additive Manufacturing and Digital Engineering Strategy Development

November 2022

October 2022

AUTHORS:  Dr. Daniel A. DeLaurentis, Dr. Jitesh H. Panchal

The overall objective of this task was to develop tools and knowledge to support the development of an additive manufacturing supply chain sustainment strategy and a digital engineering strategy. As we initiated the research effort at the beginning, we asked ourselves: Can the whole supply chain and sustainment strategy change given the additive manufacturing opportunities instead of traditional manufacturing? In what timeframe? What are the limits (e.g., materials science; systems engineering; cost; reliability; infrastructure)? To effectively perform mission engineering and ensure readiness for additive manufacturing, we set up a digital environment ready for sustainment and have the capabilities we need when we need them.

The research focused on the data and framework surrounding the opportunity to exploit additive manufacturing. More specifically, we explored the following areas:

  • Identification of necessary data in digital system models to understand how Additive Manufacturing could support system readiness and sustainment;
  • Isolation of the most critical system elements from the perspective of sustainment; identification of the variables that are key to understanding criticality from this point of view;
  • Development of a framework that would allow the focused allocation of additive manufacturing to impact system readiness and sustainment; and
  • Development of a framework of items and contractual elements that would be critical for the DoD to negotiate during the contract phase (e.g., any intellectual property rights or options needed to support an Additive Manufacturing strategy for certain types of supplies and equipment).

The full research report starts with a description and conceptual background on the decision support tool. Then, we discuss three use cases we analyzed to create the decision support tool: 1) Aircraft Fleet Maintenance using Additive Management, 2) Spacecraft Applications, and 3) Design, Manufacturing, and Maintenance of Aircraft Components. Finally, the report concludes with the presentation of a roadmap for creating digital technical data packages to adopt additive manufacturing.