Additive manufacturing via AFS has the potential to lower the cost and improve the performance of NASA airframes and spacecraft. Additive manufacturing via AFS also offers the potential to locally control the composition of a component, thus allowing for minimization of stress concentrations which can drive materials selection and design in fatigue-driven applications such as airframes. Lowering the buy-to-fly ratio is often attributed to subtractive manufacturing of webbed and ribbed components to reduce the structural weight while maintaining required stiffness. Manufacturing such components using additive manufacturing could drastically reduce extensive machining, excessive materials, the associated energy, and custom tooling costs. Using AFS to additively manufacture webbed and ribbed components on NASA airframes has the potential reduce total airframe cost through the mechanism mentioned above and with the added benefit having wrought material properties and performance.
The primary applications for early adoption of AFS are high-value propositions for which AFS enables some performance that is not achievable by traditional processing methods. One of the key benefits of AFS is that consolidation and deposition occur in the solid-state, thus highly engineered microstructures can be retained throughout processing. For, example AFS is being applied to large-plate and component manufacturing using ultra-fine-grained (UFG) Mg. Fabrication of UFG Mg components at a large-scale is currently not feasible and AFS is proving to make this possible. AFS is also being applied to coating and part fabrication using oxide dispersion strengthened alloys for fast-reactor nuclear power generation. Other commercial applications of AFS under development include coating of shaft journals for use in extreme wear and corrosion applications.