LMT & Naval Research explore AI to optimize 3D parts

Soon robots like this could make decisions on how to build more effective 3-D printed parts. This multi-axis printer uses laser beams to deposit material and make metal components, which could be important resources for people far from supply chains.

3-D printing generates parts used in ships, planes, vehicles and spacecraft, but it also requires a lot of babysitting. That’s why Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and the Office of Naval Research are exploring how to apply artificial intelligence to train robots to independently oversee—and optimize—3-D printing of complex parts. The two-year, USD 5.8M contract specifically studies and will customize multi-axis robots that use laser beams to deposit material. LMT team will develop software models and sensor modifications for the robots to build better components.

Lockheed Martin’s research will help machines make decisions about how to optimize structures based on previously verified analysis. That verified analysis and integration into a 3-D printing robotic system is core to this new contract. Lockheed Martin, along with its strong team, will vet common types of microstructures used in an additive build. The team will measure the performance attributes of the machine parameters, these microstructures and align them to material properties before integrating this knowledge into a working system. With this complete set of information, machines will be able to make decisions about how to print a part that ensures good performance.