US Navy, ASTRO America & Guam Team for New 3D Printing Center

RAPID

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The Applied Science and Technology Research Organization (ASTRO) America has been awarded $550,000 by BlueForge Alliance, a nonprofit program integrator for the US Navy’s Submarine Industrial Base (SIB) team, to help develop an additive manufacturing (AM) training center in Guam. The new funds follow a feasibility study of AM’s potential in Guam that the Government of Guam hired ASTRO America to conduct in 2021, Phase I of which was completed in April 2023.

ASTRO America and the Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans are near the completion of Phase II of the feasibility study, which will outline the vision for implementation of key aspects from Phase I. Central to that vision is a recommendation for three interrelated AM facilities: a Research and Test Center, a Business Incubator, and an education/workforce training facility.

Thus, the center now in-progress, thanks to the funds from BlueForge Alliance, appears as if it will fulfill at least a couple of those objectives, meaning that ASTRO America’s work to create an AM ecosystem in Guam continues to mature as planned. In addition to prototyping, the facility will likely place a particular emphasis on parts qualification for the US submarine program — BlueForge Alliance’s specialty.

ASTRO America research team with Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero. Image courtesy of ASTRO America

In a press release about ASTRO America’s receiving $550,000 from BlueForge Alliance to build a new AM center in Guam, the Governor of Guam, Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero, said, “Guam has long served as a crucial base of operations for the US Navy. Now, together, we can bring a technology revolution to Guam that will both create new job opportunities and contribute to America’s national security interests. I saw the potential that [AM] provides for Guam and commissioned a study to determine the feasibility of supporting [DoD] and commercial sector needs. Indeed, [AM] shows great promise for achieving our administration’s economic diversification goals, and I look forward to partnering with the Navy and this team to build a submarine industrial base here in Guam.”

Rob Gorham, the co-founder and CEO at BlueForge Alliance, said, “BlueForge Alliance is pleased to be working with this expert team. ASTRO has undertaken considerable groundwork over the last year to determine the right approach to establishing a regional center in Guam. Building off those feasibility assessments, I believe this project paves the way for a healthy manufacturing base in a region where our forces need a resilient supply chain — the Indo-Pacific.”

Image courtesy of BlueForge Alliance

In my view, the most significant angle to this collaboration is the opportunity it represents for cross-pollination of know-how between the largely aerospace-centered activities in AM Forward and BlueForge Alliance’s experience with the SIB. ASTRO America has been closely involved with the evolving AM Forward framework over the last couple of years, including the cultivation a state-level pilot program (AMF-Florida), and the printing of a rotor system for the Apache helicopter in collaboration with AM Forward member Boeing.

One of the most important factors for determining how quickly the DoD’s overall AM capabilities can accelerate is the ease of streamlining between all the different branches and agencies within the Pentagon. As much progress as all the cogs in the wheel have made on their own, there are still great difficulties in synergizing the gains across the whole wheel.

On the other hand, AM’s biggest advocates in DoD are, at least, certainly aware of how crucial it is to address that need. More working relationships between organizations like ASTRO America and BlueForge Alliance would certainly be a step in the right direction.

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