Metal Additive Manufacturing for Aerospace Applications


  •  This comprehensive course details all aspects of the additive manufacturing process for aerospace applications from concept, process selection, material evaluation, post-processing, design, and certification.
  • Includes an eBook copy of the instructor’s 850+ page AIAA textbook “Metal Additive Manufacturing for Propulsion Applications” for all registrants
  • All students will receive an AIAA Certificate of Completion at the end of the course.


Additive manufacturing (AM) processes are proving to be a disruptive technology and are grabbing the attention of the propulsion industry for development and flight applications. AM-related advancements in new industries, supply chains, design opportunities, and novel materials are increasing at a rapid pace. The goal of this course is to provide an overview of the concept-to-utilization life cycle in AM for aerospace applications. The organization of this course seeks to guide the engineer through the intertwined basics, regarding design and implementation, as they begin their journey into AM. The course includes an overview of why AM is used, various metal AM processes, feedstock, metal alloy selection, material characterization and testing, post-processing, design for AM, certification, and emerging areas of AM.

An AM practitioner will not be able to take full advantage of AM unless they understand the entire lifecycle of AM -- metals, process, post-processing, performance of AM parts, and approach for implementation and certification. This course is designed for all disciplines involved in AM or those who are managing AM projects. The roles of design engineer, materials engineer, and manufacturing engineer are more closely related when AM is employed, and these roles are intertwined in the adoption of AM in the aerospace industry. A further goal of this course is to provide advocacy for the technology while simultaneously delivering a realistic overview of the design and process life cycle. This approach allows strategic AM development through certification, approached with a fundamental understanding so that application of the technology can remain directed at proper implementation. This course is based on lessons learned and experiences with both successes and failures in AM with various case studies presented throughout.


  • Identify use cases for additive manufacturing (AM) and how best used and when not to use.
  • Obtain an understanding of the entire lifecycle for metal AM design, processing, and implementation for aerospace components.
  • Gain an understanding of the various metal AM processes and advantages and disadvantages of each.
  • Ascertain the attributes for AM process selection for various component requirements.
  • Understand the basics of AM materials, microstructure, testing and properties and importance to the overall design, processing and post-processing.
  • Recognize the different feedstocks for AM processes and how to classify, characterize, and recycle (where appropriate).
  • Understand the importance and various steps involved in post-build processing and what and when is needed.
  • Obtain a basic understanding of the various rules and approaches for design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) for powder bed fusion and directed energy deposition processes.
  • Gain an understanding of the basic classification and certification approach for metal AM hardware.

This course is intended for engineers, technicians, and students of all types who are involved in the metal additive manufacturing process. It is ideal for those employees or students who no experience with metal additive manufacturing or those who have a novice understanding but have not applied for practical applications. Additive manufacturing involves all kinds of disciplines from design, analysis, manufacturing, materials scientists and it is important for all disciplines to have a have a common understanding of the terminology, entire lifecycle, and each step involved for successful implementation of AM. This introductory course focuses on the basic concepts from each process step in the AM process. It is presented based on the practical aspects and lessons learned during hardware design, processing, development, and flight.

Course Information:
Type of Course: Instructor-Led Short Course
Course Level: Fundamentals/Intermediate
Course Length: 2 days
AIAA CEU's available: Yes

This course is also available as an on-demand short course. Register here


1. Overview and Process Selection

  • Appropriate use case for Additive Manufacturing (AM)
  • Advantages and disadvantages of AM
  • When and why AM used
  • Examples of AM components and applications
    • Development and flight
  •  AM processes and process selection
    • Introduction and comparison of metal AM processes
    • Attributes for process selection
    • Laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF)
    • Laser powder directed energy deposition (LP-DED)
    • Electron beam powder bed fusion (EB-PBF)
    • Arc-wire directed energy deposition (AW-DED)
    • Laser wire and laser hot-wire directed energy deposition (LW-DED)
    • Electron beam wire directed energy deposition (EBW-DED)
    • Additive friction stir deposition (AFS-D)
    • Cold spray
2. Materials – Selection and Characterization
  • Material selection for aerospace
  • Why and how is AM material different?
  • Criteria and studies of AM differences
  • Characterizing microstructure
  • Types of alloys used in alloys
  • Heat treatment overview
  • Characterizing mechanical properties (tensile and fatigue)
  • Mechanical and thermophysical properties summary

3. Feedstock
  • AM powder and wire requirements
  • Production methods
  • Logistic supply chain

4. Post-Processing
  • Overview of post-processing
  • Design for post-processing
  • Unpacking and powder removal
  • Heat treatments
  • Support removal
  • Build plate removal
  • Inspection and Nondestructive evaluation (NDE)
  • Joining: welding and brazing
  • Surface finish enhancements / polishing
  • Cleaning of AM parts
  • Machining
  • Case Studies

5. Design for AM (DfAM)
  • Overview of design lifecycle for AM
  • PBF design for AM
  • DED design for AM
  • Model definition and drawings for AM parts
  • Topology Optimization and generative design

6. Certification
  • Overview of standards
  • Overview of NASA certification methodology
    • Foundations
    • AM control planning
    • Quality management system
    • Equipment and facility control planning
    • Qualified metallurgical process
    • Material properties suite
    • Part production planning
    • Qualified part process
  • Summary of certification

7. Emerging AM
  • Hybrid approaches
  • Custom Properties (lattice structures, intentional porosity)
  • Maturing AM techniques
  • In-situ process monitoring
  • Simulation and Modeling

8. Component Case Studies
  • Considerations
  • Design optimization for performance
  • Reproducibility and repeatability
  • Mass reduction
  • Flow variations
  • Thermal performance
  • Fatigue performance

9. Q&A, Summary

Paul Gradl 
is a principal engineer and subject matter expert at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama. Mr. Gradl serves as a Principal Investigator and leads several projects for additive manufacturing of liquid rocket engine engines, and has supported various development and flight programs over the last 19 years. He authored and co-authored over 100 journal articles and conference papers; published a book under AIAA, “Metal Additive Manufacturing for Propulsion Applications,” in 2022; holds five patents; and regularly teaches courses in additive manufacturing. Gradl is the recipient of numerous NASA and industry awards and medals; an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a member of SME, and serves on several additive manufacturing industry and government committees and as an advisor to industry. Gradl was named one of “The Most Influential Personalities of Additive Manufacturing in 2020” by 3Dnatives and the recipient of “Engineer of the Year” by AIAA in 2022.
Omar Mireles is a research and development engineer and subject matter expert at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. He serves as principal investigator for numerous additive manufacturing R&D projects, and leads efforts for refractory metal maturation, infusion of additive manufacture into propulsion, cryogenic fluid management, and space nuclear power and propulsion systems. He holds a PhD in Nuclear Engineering with emphasis in Materials Science and Engineering. His work experience spans several NASA centers, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the U.S. Air Force. Dr. Mireles has over 60 conference and journal publications, published the book “Metal Additive Manufacturing for Propulsion Applications” with AIAA; holds three patents; trains and mentors several PhD candidates; and routinely teaches courses in additive manufacturing. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.

Additional Module Instructors
  • Christopher Kantzos
  • Erin Lanigan
  • Ryan Mcclelland
  • Alison Park
  • Will Tilson
  • Kevin Wheeler
  • Sean Dobson


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