Uncertainties in materials and component manufacturing processes are a primary cause of cost escalation and delay during the development, testing and early production of defense systems. In addition, fielded military platforms may have unanticipated performance problems, despite large investment and extensive testing of their key components and subassemblies. These uncertainties and performance problems are often the result of the random variations and non-uniform scaling of manufacturing processes. These challenges, in turn, lead to counterproductive resistance to adoption of new, innovative manufacturing technologies that could offer better results.
DARPA created the Open Manufacturing program to lower the cost and speed the delivery of high-quality manufactured goods with predictable performance. It aims to do so by creating a manufacturing framework that captures factory-floor and materials processing variability and integrates probabilistic computational tools, informatics systems and rapid qualification approaches. These newly developed concepts and approaches will be used to characterize and reduce the risk of new manufacturing technologies.
Manufacturing is investing in four foundational areas:
If successful, Open Manufacturing will reduce barriers to innovation in manufacturing, and expand the Defense manufacturing base by establishing methodologies for affordable, rapid, adaptable manufacturing with comprehensive design, simulation and processing tools and exposure to best practices. The resulting framework, through greater process understanding and control, would allow new manufacturing processes to be more readily transferred from the laboratory to the shop floor.
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