Who wants $10 million to fund a 3D printing program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base? Anybody? Any takers? Taxpayers are being petitioned. Well, not really. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Akron) and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton) have included this request for the funding in the proposed 2016 Defense Budget. They are looking to fund an additive manufacturing innovation research program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The program was created last year by the U.S. Air Force to study how to 3D print parts for weapons systems. Sorry, Cody Wilson, I guess only Uncle Sam can play with 3D printing weapons. They’ll just “secure” them on a encypted database and, having hired a new expert systems administrator, Edward Snowdenov, who recently emigrated to the United States from Russia, the research efforts will remain top secret.
The objective of the program is similar to other initiatives that spring up around 3D printing, meaning that they are looking for better ways to create replacement components, but this time, it’s for weapons systems. Rep. Turner, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said of the project, “I am proud to be a leader on this program that continues to support Ohio manufacturing capabilities and taps into the talent at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. This is just one example of how bipartisan initiatives can expand opportunities and continue to bring jobs to Ohio and assist the Defense Department.”
Rep. Ryan is a member of the House Defense Subcommittee on Appropriations and is notable in the 3D printing industry both as being partially responsible for the founding of America Makes, the country’s pilot 3D printing institute, and as the co-founder of the Makers Caucus in the House. Ryan said of the potential for funding, “Additive manufacturing is transforming every sector of our national economy and it is clear that Ohio is leading the way. I’m proud to assist in the funding of this program that will ultimately help grow manufacturing jobs in our State and across the nation, while at the same time reduce costs for the Defense Department.”
Turn included authorizing language for the potential funding into the National Defense Authorization Act, while Ryan found the funding in the 2016 Defense Appropriations Bill, which passed the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. Before either measure goes into effect, they must pass the Senate and then be signed by the POTUS.