The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), additive manufacturing accelerator America Makes, and Pennsylvania-based consultancy Catalyst Connection, have announced the launch of an additive manufacturing program for the U.S Army.
The program, called AMNOW, is funded by the U.S. Army and aims to support the integration of additive manufacturing into the force’s existing supply chains which, according to Ralph Resnick, NCDMM President and Chief Executive Officer and Founding Director of America Makes, “are some of the most complex in the world.”
“The long-term implications of the AMNOW program for the U.S. Army and its supply chain are substantial,” Resnick adds.
Initiating the adoption of AM for the U.S. Army
For its initial phase, AMNOW will establish preparations for integrating and accelerating the use of “innovative, cross-cutting” additive manufacturing technologies in the U.S. Army. With the implementation of an additive manufacturing supply chain and transition path, the program aims to increase the U.S. army’s readiness and enable on-site production of materials to support soldiers on the battlefield.
“The insertion of AM technologies into the existing U.S. Army supply chain will undoubtedly enable significant strategic and tactical advantages for the Army and its state of overall readiness,” said Rob Gorham, NCDMM Executive Director of America Makes.
“The ability to leverage AM technologies to produce low-volume, critical parts on-demand and on-site anywhere in the world could dramatically alter the Army’s supply chain, making it far more efficient and cost-effective.”
AMNOW is funded by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Aviation & Missile Center, part of the U.S. Army Manufacturing Science and Technology (MS&T) Division under the newly formed U.S. Army Futures Command that is working on a 3D printable customized steel powder.
NCDMM, which manages and operates America Makes, secured the award of the initial phase of AMNOW, valued at $3.7M in funding, in partnership with Catalyst Connection. It marks the start of a potentially multi-phase, multi-year contract.
“The work of the initial phase of AMNOW will be instrumental in creating a solid foundation and a clear path on how to best advance AM technologies into the Army’s supply chain.”
Advances for U.S. manufacturing
Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Catalyst Connection is a private not-for-profit organization that provides small-to medium-sized manufacturers in southwestern PA (SWPA) with consulting and training services like organizational development, quality and delivery improvements, financial support and more. The organization is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network™, creating links between public and private entities to make advanced for the U.S. manufacturing industry.
Petra Mitchell, Catalyst Connection President and CEO, explains, “The AMNOW Program signifies a tremendous regional economic growth opportunity for small- to medium-sized manufactures within the SWPA [Southwest Pennsylvania] region. By developing a fully integrated plan to help these local manufactures adopt AM technologies and demonstrate the return on investment of AM for them would be an economic game-changer for the manufacturing sector of our region.”
A military-wide drive for 3D printing
Additive manufacturing is providing a number of inroads to on-demand and on-site production of parts for the military and civil aerospace sectors. Through the Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-cost Sustainment (MAMLS) project, CDMM and America Makes have previously helped focus development on 3D printing for the replacement components of legacy fleets.
In New Jersey, the U.S. Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) sourced a Rize One 3D printer in order to produce tools and spare parts on-demand, and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) have multiple programs for the technology’s advancement, including creating filaments from military waste.
Concluding the most recent announcement for AMNOW, Resnick comments, “On behalf of all of us at NCDMM and America Makes, we look forward to leading the initial phase of AMNOW in conjunction with the team at Catalyst Connection.”
“As a long-standing partner and a founding member in America Makes, Catalyst Connection brings a depth of expertise in business development, manufacturing, and additive. I am confident that we will be successful in the initial and subsequent phases of AMNOW.”
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Featured image shows a 3D printed metal part testing the capabilities of custom alloys. This part shows the geometric capabilities of 3D printing with the symbol of the newly formed Army Futures Command. Photo via the U.S. Army/David McNally.