Steel Performance Initiative

SPI organizes collaboration between steel industry leaders and university researchers led by the Steel Founders’ Society of America (SFSA) to answer the DoD’s call for innovation. Defense needs have transitioned from asymmetric conflicts with terrorists to preparing for peer-to-peer confrontations. This highlights the need for higher performance capability of steel components in weapon systems.

For decades the development and deployment of new steel technologies has been under-supported. Investing in the industrial base positions the US as commercial leaders while improving legacy weapon systems support, providing state-of-the-art protection for the warfighter, and preparing for the next generation of DoD needs. Strategic steel initiatives have been identified for research vital to support current and future defense objectives.

SPI invests in defining best practices, alloy development, and manufacturing technology so that the U.S. remains the leading world power in both defense and industry steel technology. DoD and industry steel experts have identified the following critical research objectives:

  1. Robust Advanced High Strength Steels (RAHSS)
    • Improve the manufacturability and robustness of high strength, high toughness, and high hardness steels and transition these steels to DoD and commercial applications.
  2. Quantitative Non-destructive Testing (QNDT) and Non-destructive Evaluation (NDE)
    • Develop quantitative NDT methods tied to component performance with improved reproducibility and repeatability in inspection to develop and inform fitness-for-service assessments.
  3. Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) and Model-based Process & Product Design (MP2D)
    • Use ICME tools to enhance the alloy composition and processing for properties and to understand the technology required for robust manufacturing of RAHSS. Integrate modeling of manufacturing and design to develop high-performance components.
  4. Hybrid Manufacturing Technology (Hybrid ManTech)
    • Couple existing and new processing methods to provide new processing routes, like cast forging pre-forms or encapsulated steel inserts.
  5. Next Gen Job Shop Manufacturing (Smart JSM)
    • Transition Industry 4.0 to the job shop environment, where part-specific programs, fixtures, sensors, controls, etc. are cost-prohibitive for tasks like finishing and inspecting. Apply machine learning, augmented reality, AI, etc. to provide new tools such as automated image analysis to support QNDT.