Legacy Universal Technology Company (UTC) News

UTC Awarded $4.2M AFRL Contract Assessing Damage Progression Models for CMCs

April 24, 2019

UTC has been awarded the Assessment of Damage Progression Models for SiC/SiC Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC) effort. This program will assess and quantify the effectiveness of progressive damage models (PDM) for prognosis of behavior and life of SiC/SiC ceramic matrix composites in application relevant environments. In addition, the utility of PDM models for damage tolerance base assessment of CMC based aero-components will be demonstrated.

Dr. Rollie Dutton, UTCs Director, Materials and Manufacturing stated; “our Principal Investigator, Mr. Larry Zawada, has an extensive background in CMCs and is excited to get started on this effort. We appreciate this opportunity to contribute to this important work for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Composites Branch”.

UTC will characterize SiC/SiC CMC coupon properties via appropriate coupon testing or data supplied from the manufacturer; calibrate a selected set of currently available PDMs with coupon data; predict feature tests without available experimental results with calibrated PDM models; validate the PDM predictions of the feature tests through appropriate experiments; and mature PDM approaches to address any deficiencies identified through the validation tests.

This efforts continues UTCs extensive research portfolio for the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate.


UTC to Fabricate Simulated Runway Tiles using Additive Manufacturing

January 18, 2019

UTC has been awarded a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract to develop and demonstrate additive manufacturing (AM) to print long-lasting material tiles to simulate runway surfaces. The tiles will be used to support predictive tire wear testing at the Air Force’s landing gear test facility at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The morphology of runway surfaces plays a crucial role on the performance and longevity of aircraft tires, making it important to accurately replicate fine surface features in laboratory tests. Currently, runway surface replicas are fabricated by specialized concrete manufacturers. Such an approach is expensive, time consuming, and does not allow for accurate imitation of many surfaces. A promising path is to 3D scan representative surfaces, generate 3D models from the scan data, and then fabricate the tiles using additive manufacturing techniques (aka, 3D printing).

Selective laser melting (SLM) is an attractive avenue for printing such tiles. SLM uses laser energy to solidify metal or ceramic powders in a layer-by-layer process to build up a three-dimensional part. UTC’s OPENSLM™ line of open-architecture systems offers a compelling advantage for this application, as these systems can be configured for project needs, provide full control of build parameters, have no restrictions on powder feedstock, and allow for the incorporation of novel processing capabilities. UTC’s approach includes fabrication of metal/ceramic composite tiles using an OPENSLM system outfitted with surface measurement sensors and a correction algorithm specifically designed to provide a precise clone of the actual surface. The metal/ceramic tiles should provide excellent mechanical performance.

Led by Dr. Olga Ivanova, the work will be conducted at UTC’s 3D Innovation Laboratory at the Russ Research Center in Beavercreek, Ohio. Established in 2017, the 3DI Lab’s mission is to lower the barriers inhibiting the adoption of metal and multi-material additive manufacturing across industries. Dr. Ivanova serves as the 3DI Lab’s Principal Scientist for Multi-Material AM/3DP. She has over 8 years of experience in the field, having served as Principal Investigator for numerous AM/3DP projects supporting the Department of Defense and NASA.


UTC Wins Air Force Research Laboratory Contract for R&D on Spatial Registration for Materials State Awareness

September 28, 2018

UTC is excited to announce that AFRL has awarded UTC the Spatial Registration for Materials State Awareness Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contract valued at $9.65M. UTC will support the AF in determining the most appropriate spatial/positional registration technologies for aircraft Nondestructive Inspection (NDI) applications, and developing integrated technology capabilities at breadboard and prototype levels with necessary validation/verification and demonstration at each stage of technology development. The ultimate goal of the effort is to demonstrate a system that can track NDI sensor probe location and orientation in line-of-sight as well as obstructed (e.g. personnel stands, equipment, etc.) exterior and confined interior sections of aircraft, such as bays, interior of wings, and other limited access areas. System enhancements may include providing guidance to the operator for proper placement/orientation of the probe and to ensure full inspection area coverage is accomplished per the Technical Order. The system will record and report probe spatial registration data fused with NDI instrument data in a report format meeting or exceeding current Technical Order needs and Depot maintenance inspection practices.

“We are looking forward to applying our existing NDI and sensors expertise, and providing a new capability to the Air Force in a technology area that will have pervasive positive effects on aircraft sustainment throughput, effectiveness, and cost”, says Dr. Enrique Medina, UTC Associate Director, Sensors and Mission Systems. Dr. Jim Malas, Director, Materials and Manufacturing, stated; “this is a great win for UTC and an opportunity for us to deliver an exciting capability which will tie in nicely with Digital Thread applications.”

This contract expands UTC's legacy NDI and Aircraft Structural Life efforts, now connecting them to the Aircraft Digital Thread / Digital Twin programs.


UTC Awarded $3.2M AFRL Research Program in Multifunctional Materials Synthesis, Modeling & Characterization

September 26, 2018

UTC was recently awarded Task Order 3 of the Structural Composites Advanced Materials & Processes – Multifunctional (SCAMP-M) Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contract worth up to $3.2M. UTC will be developing, modelling, and characterizing emerging materials to enable new functionality in polymer matrix composites, advanced materials, and devices for future Air Force assets and weapon systems applications. The effort will focus on developing materials, characterization methods and modeling techniques that will enable composite materials capable of sensing or responding to an external stimulus, with increased functionality, or able to be utilized for closed-loop process control. This effort is broken into two areas - Materials Synthesis and Materials Modeling and Characterization. In the area of Materials Synthesis, UTC will develop chemistries and synthesis techniques to create new materials that can allow for the mechanical, thermal, electrical, and electro-magnetic properties of the composite structure to be tailored. UTC will make use of first principles and physics-based predictions to help guide materials development and utilize existing composite processing techniques to incorporate new materials and functionalities. In the area of Materials Modeling and Characterization, UTC will characterize materials developed both in-house and externally using advanced characterization techniques; perform analysis of characterization data; develop theoretical and computation models to elucidate material property phenomena and predict material and composite properties. UTC will use models to guide and interpret the use of material sensing technologies in dynamic closed-loop process control.

TEM Image of a MXene Particle MXene particles are one material UTC is investigating for tailoring the multifunctional properties of composites.

“We are excited to continue to provide materials modeling and characterization research to AFRL under the SCAMP contract effort potentially providing a whole new capability to the Air Force”, says Dr. Keith Slinker, UTC Senior Scientist. Dr. Jim Malas, Director, Materials and Manufacturing stated; “we appreciate this opportunity to contribute to this important work for AFRL Composites Branch and the Air Force.”

UTC provides support to a variety of engineering, science and technology programs in the areas of academic research collaboration, aerospace systems, airbase systems, data analytics, materials and manufacturing, space vehicles and directed energy. UTC also assists in planning and management support for those programs including graphics development and meeting management. In 2017, UTC stood up the 3D Innovation Lab to consolidate initiatives in additive manufacturing and 3D printing (AM/3DP). Our aim is to improve the capability of AM to meet industry and defense needs. Major research thrusts include in situ process monitoring, hybrid laser processing, beam sources and control, multi-material powder bed processing, and advanced alloy development.


NASA Awards Contract to Dayton Firms to Develop Integrated Additive Manufacturing Framework to Improve Parts Quality

August 07, 2018

Universal Technology Corporation (UTC) and Materials Resources, LLC (MRL), two small businesses from Ohio’s Miami Valley, today announced their intent to develop an integrated framework for monitoring, modeling, and controlling the selective laser melting (SLM) process used for high-value additive manufacturing (AM). The collaboration combines UTC’s open-architecture, sensorized AM system with MRL’s artificial intelligence software to provide an innovative feedforward process which will improve quality control for AM parts.

Laser photo here. Selective laser melting uses laser energy to rapidly melt metal or ceramic powders, spread layer by layer, to build up complex three-dimensional parts. SLM is currently the preferred industry process for parts requiring superior dimensional accuracy and material properties, with minimal post processing. Such parts are in high demand for aerospace, defense, medical, and other applications that will benefit from weight savings, on-demand part supply, and improved design freedom.

However, despite the potential of SLM, the technology has yet to see widespread adoption in industry for critical parts because quality control of the process is severely lacking. Industry has increasingly focused on developing new process-monitoring sensor systems that identify errors as they develop during the layer-by-layer build, but there are still no practical methods to act on this data, as the defects occur or preventatively. Through the federal Small Business Innovative Research program, UTC has been awarded a NASA contract with team members MRL and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) to develop and demonstrate a framework that uses industry-leading sensing techniques to inform an artificial intelligence model to control and correct SLM processes.

In this new project, UTC will work with sensor experts at UNCC to integrate fringe pattern projection profilometry (FP3) into UTC’s commercially available open-architecture AM system (OPENSLM™). FP3 provides a fast and effective means to quantitatively analyze the entire surface of each layer, providing data to be used for quality control analysis. The FP3-enabled OPENSLM system will be incorporated into MRL’s Integrated Computational Adaptive Additive Manufacturing (iCAAM™) process/properties modeling suite. Together, the combination of OPENSLM, iCAAM, and FP3 will provide a powerful capability that allows versatile collection of sensor data, full control of all AM process parameters, and artificial intelligence for real-time process modeling and control. The result will be a state-of-the-art SLM system that predicts and corrects for dimensional distortion, captures the dimensional characteristics of every layer in the part’s digital data, and significantly improves build results.

This effort is a significant step forward to reduce the barriers to the adoption of AM for high-value end parts requiring the most stringent quality control.

About Universal Technology Corporation: Established in 1961, UTC is a leading small business headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, providing engineering services, technical management, and product development. In 2017, UTC launched its 3D Innovation Lab (www.utc3di.com) to consolidate company initiatives in additive manufacturing, and accelerate the commercialization of open-architecture AM systems, developed primarily through NASA and Air Force funding and collaboration with the University of Dayton Research Institute. UTC is helping drive the industry shift from relatively closed and expensive industrial-grade AM systems to more open, versatile, and affordable systems and sensor packages.

About Materials Resources, LLC: Founded in Dayton, Ohio, by Dr. Ayman Salem in 2009, MRL (www.icmrl.net) is a leader in practical implementation of microstructure-informed integrated computational materials engineering (ICME). In 2016, MRL started internal funding for in-house commercial additive manufacturing of hard-to-make alloys including titanium and aluminum alloys, with its first end-user AM parts sold in 2017. MRL developed a suite of software tools (iCAAM™) that implements ICME workflow into AM to optimize part performance for residual stresses, fatigue life, and strength. For this development, MRL developed machine-learning algorithms for pattern recognition and data-driven modeling based on in-house databases linking location-specific microstructure, thermal profile, and material properties. In 2018, MRL’s team with MSC Software, CTC, SLM Solutions, University of Pittsburgh, and America Makes was awarded a potential $6.4 million contract from the Navy Quality Made funds to develop and demonstrate a suite/combination of AM software and hardware technologies required to support the rapid qualification of critical metallic components at a reduced cost.