AFRL, ORNL to leverage technology efforts

  • Published
  • By Robyn Mack
  • AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate
The Air Force Research Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory teamed once again to leverage national technology efforts under a cooperative agreement signed Dec. 16 during an event at the Department of Energy's facility in Roane County, Tenn.

The collaboration, made official by Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Masiello, AFRL commander, and Dr. Jim Roberto, ORNL's Associate Laboratory Director for Science and Technology Partnerships, intends to improve the cost, schedule and performance associated with developing critical technologies that will transition to armed forces units.

According to Masiello, "Leveraging national capabilities and investments is critical to our military transformation and reaching Air Force research and development goals." 

Dr. Eddie Schwalbach, a research materials engineer at AFRL, has been working with ORNL and will continue to expand efforts under the new agreement. His research in metallic additive manufacturing of titanium materials for aerospace applications is one way the Air Force may be able to improve mission readiness in the future.

The partnership between ORNL and AFRL establishes a common path into the organizations respective technology bases.

ORNL may be able to utilize AFRL technologies to meet the needs and requirements of emerging national or homeland security challenges, noted Roberto. The teaming will also enable rapid response for technology, capability or expertise needed for mission or emergency requirements that come to AFRL from the Air Force.

"ORNL possesses world-class computational capabilities which include state-of-the-art computing platforms that enable the development and execution of unique modeling and simulation software," said Thomas Lockhart, director of AFRL's Materials and Manufacturing Directorate. "Pairing the expertise at Oak Ridge with that in the lab allows us to create better solutions for Air Force needs."

"Oak Ridge's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility has unique capabilities for additively fabricating materials while simultaneously collecting processing information," Schwalbach added. "This data, when combined with AFRL's unique materials characterization capabilities, will give us great insight into the additive manufacturing fabrication process. Thorough understanding of the processing state will help us to better understand and reduce defects; improving material quality will enable aerospace use of this manufacturing process."

AFRL is the Air Force's innovation center for scientific and technology and oversees the development of basic and applied research as well as advanced technology development efforts. These activities support the creation of air, space and cyber capabilities to meet the near-to mid-term needs of the service, provide rapid solutions in response to urgent warfighter requirements, and conduct long-term research to develop game-changing, revolutionary capabilities for the Air Force of the future.

ORNL conducts basic and applied research and development as well as rapid prototyping to create scientific knowledge and technical solutions to meet national challenges. These R&D challenges encompass the key areas of physical and biological science and technology, clean and abundant energy sources, restoration and protection of the environment, national and homeland security, and nuclear nonproliferation.