Air Force Additive Manufacturing: Case Studies on Tools, Jigs, and Topology Optimization

William L. Page


This research explored the application of Additive Manufacturing (AM) to operations for various career fields using case study analysis to investigate to what degree can AM and topology optimization, a mathematical model to optimize the shape of a design, be utilized by various Air Force squadrons in everyday and contingency operations; to what degree can topology optimization be applied to the tools and jigs developed; and how much could topology optimization potentially save the Air Force over a given amount of time? These case studies evaluated nine tools and jigs for Explosive Ordnance Disposal and the Engineering Management Laboratory at the Air Force Institute of Technology. If deemed appropriate by the customer and designer, topology optimization was applied. As the hallmark of a good tool or jig is its usability, a survey was given to rate different aspects of usability for each case study. The scores were then used to identify trends between the case studies. Overall, this research found that AM and topology optimization could be applied to both daily and contingency operations, that topology optimization could be applied to various tools and jigs, and that the application of topology optimization could bring significant cost savings over time.