Aluminum Alloy Development and Use in Additive Manufacturing Process Design for Drive System Gear Boxes

Period of Performance: 05/05/2014 - 03/05/2015


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Questek Innovations LLC
1820 Ridge Ave. Array
Evanston, IL 60201
Principal Investigator


In this Phase I SBIR program, QuesTek Innovations, a leader in the field of integrated computational materials engineering (ICME), proposes to design and develop novel aluminum alloys specifically optimized for the unique processing conditions and challenges of Additive Manufacturing processing. QuesTek is uniquely suited to rapidly designing new aluminum alloys specifically optimized for AM processing using its advanced Materials by Design® stage-gate alloy development process, which is based upon computationally-implemented mechanistic models to predict process-structure and structure-property relationships. Engineers at Bell Helicopter have expressed direct interest in the development of new Al-based alloys for AM, and will act as the voice-of-the-customer to define material property objectives and processing constraints for cast helicopter drive system gear box components. Technical feasibility will be demonstrated in Phase I using pilot-scale powder production (Valimet, Inc.) and leveraging the DMLS production facilities and expertise of manufacturing partner Harvest Technologies (a leader in DMLS-based AM technology). QuesTek s partnership provides a close partnership between material designer (QuesTek), AM manufacturer (Harvest) and OEM user (Bell). Material will be evaluated for microstructure, homogeneity and key mechanical properties (particularly strength, ductility and modulus) to demonstrate the ease of processing of the optimized chemistry and feasibility in achieving target properties.