The products are high quality/low quantity with designs that are highly customized, much like products made at the Kansas City National Security Campus (KC NSC). The AM process allows for more creativity in designs that could result in revolutionary designs instead of evolutionary designs but they introduce challenges when it comes to qualifying them for use in nuclear weapons. To meet this challenge, the KC NSC has partnered with Missouri University of Science and Technology (MS&T).
MS&T’s expertise in material science will enable the research required to meet the AM qualification challenges. The research objectives are to improve the properties of the built parts, to control microstructures for achieving desired properties, to maximize powder reuse, and to increase process sustainability. The research topics include powder characterization, material property characterization methods, temperature effects on material properties, controlling microstructure and mechanical properties, and chemistry specifically for the additive manufacturing process.
KC NSC purchased an AM machine (see figure above) for MS&T to conduct their research. The collaboration with MS&T started in FY 2015 and will continue for 5 years with a total of nearly $5 million dollars of NNSA funding. This research enhances MS&T’s material expertise and provides KC NSC with the data needed to qualify the process for nuclear weapon parts.