The Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense (DoD), is actively looking into innovative technologies such as robotics and 3D printing to secure the position of the US as the leader of global manufacturing and innovation.
Over the past few years, the Pentagon and the DoD have emphasized their willingness to collaborate with service providers or developers working with technologies like 3D printing that have the potential of truly revolutionizing the global manufacturing industry. In 2014, the government established Manufacturing USA, an initiative to establish a network of advanced manufacturing institutes with the help of the industrial, academic, nonprofit and governmental sectors.
Eight of the 14 institutes that have been established so far are led by the DoD. In August of 2015, the DoD demonstrated its efforts in prioritizing manufacturing innovation by awarding a contract to a consortium of 162 companies and universities led by the FlexTech Alliance.
At the time, the DoD stated:
“After a decade of decline in the 2000s, when 40 percent of all large factories closed their doors, American manufacturing is adding jobs at its fastest rate in decades, with nearly 900,000 new manufacturing jobs created since February 2010. Today’s announcement represents the kind of investment needed to build on this progress, broadening the foundation for American manufacturing capability and accelerating growth for years to come.”
Last week, the DoD announced the establishment of the 14th Manufacturing USA institute, the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM) Innovation Hub. The contract was awarded to Pittsburgh-based American Robotics Inc., as representatives of the DoD noted the importance of funding and supporting these consortia that are allocating resources and capital to improve the infrastructure of the US manufacturing industry.
“[American Robotics] will organize the current fragmented domestic capabilities in manufacturing robotics technology and better position the United States, relative to global competition,” read the DoD’s statement.
The government of the US has shown its optimism and interest towards robotics and companies working on technologies that are presumed to optimize manufacturing processes. However, there exists a technology in 3D printing which synergizes impeccably with robotics, as it speeds up both prototype development and manufacturing processes exponentially.
Acknowledging the necessity of additive manufacturing within the US manufacturing industry, the DoD has already funded various 3D printing-focused consortia and institutions – most recently, they announced the establishment of the Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing USA Institute, which focuses heavily on 3D bioprinting among other technologies.
In addition, the Youngstown, Ohio-based America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, has already garnered $90 million in investment and is planning to train more than 14,000 workers to systematically handle additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology-based applications, platforms and hardware. Discuss in the Pentagon forum at 3DPB.com.
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