Lockheed Tries to Find Way to Put AI in Charge of 3D Printing

Lockheed Martin has partnered with the Office of Naval Research to see if they can make artificial intelligence that not only trains robots on how to oversee 3D printing operations, but also is able to adjust the process to make sure that quality 3D printed parts are being made.

The issue is that while 3D printing makes it possible to make part geometries that, until now, were never before available, if only one small section of that part doesn’t meet spec, the entire part is unusable.

The team is lead by Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Center, and it will spend $5.8 million over two years to build custom multi-axis robots that use laser beams to deposit metal material. They want to find new ways that machines can observe, learn and make decisions to make more consistent parts.

The applications are many as the prospect of using 3D printers to replace the supply chain is an uptime pipedream. Consider printing replacement parts for remote oil and gas operations, or equipment for soldiers while they are on the battlefield. Really, it's the next step towards actually just-in-time manufacturing, other than printing materials, where you walk into a store and pick up a freshly printed part rather than anything off the shelf.

The team will first work with a common titanium alloy, Ti-6AI-4V, and the work will be implemented at various industry, national lab and university partners.

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