The additive manufacturing community is getting cozier with the US government, these days. In addition to the White House’s own interest in the technology, 3D Systems recently added a former member of the Obama administration and manager of Department of Defense funds as its Vice President of Alliances and Partnerships. This latest news, however, may demonstrate that the feds have long had a history with 3D printing, as former member of the FBI, Kevin Ayers, joins SME as its industry manager of additive manufacturing and 3D printing.
Ayers spent some 30 years with the FBI in its manufacturing lab. (Who knew they had one, right?) During that time, he’s also been a member and volunteer leader of SME’s Rapid Technologies & Additive Manufacturing Community, where he often contributed to SME’s RAPID 3D printing summit. Ayers, in his official new role with the industry organization, will develop and manage all of SME’s activities associated with 3D printing. Additionally, Ayers will serve on the Governance Board of America Makes and is a part of the Additive Manufacturing Users Group.
Debbie Holton, managing director of industry strategy and events at SME, explained how Ayers will contribute to the organization, “Around the world, additive manufacturing is changing the way companies design and manufacture products. With the addition of Kevin to SME, we’ll be able to even better serve the additive manufacturing and 3D printing industry, as he brings a wealth of knowledge and will be able to identify even more opportunities where SME can lend its expertise and resources.”
According to a profile of Ayers from the RAPID 2012 event, he has been involved in the technology since its early stages, first through a partnership with DARPA. And, “[i]n 1993, Mr. Ayers spearheaded an effort within the FBI to use the additive manufacturing processes not only in prototyping but as a tool for the manufacturing of systems to be used as final product for FBI applications. To date, the FBI has manufactured over 15,000 parts using the additive manufacturing processes, most of which are still in service today.” Clearly an expert in the technology, Ayers will take his extensive experience at the FBI and bring it more prominently to the members of SME. With his dual roles at SME and America Makes, he will surely play an important role in the two groups’ establishment of AM standards in the US. It’d be interesting to see some of the ways that the FBI uses the technology and, maybe through his new positions, we’ll see them crop up in other parts of the industry.