The White House hails the 3D printing program

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AM Forward will help reduce costs for American families by improving the competitiveness of small and medium American manufacturers, creating and sustaining well-paying manufacturing jobs, and improving supply chain resilience through the adoption of additive manufacturing.

President Biden’s top economic priority is to fight inflation by reducing the costs facing working families and reducing the federal deficit.

One of the best ways to lower the cost of the goods and services families rely on is to make more things in America, with more secure and resilient supply chains. We have learned this the hard way during this crisis – when fragile supply chains and stalled manufacturing have led to backlogs, bottlenecks and higher prices for families.

President Biden’s plan to fight inflation tackles this problem head-on. Thanks to the President’s leadership, we are in the midst of an American manufacturing boom with more than $200 billion in investment in new manufacturing facilities and record job creation. The Biden administration has spurred unprecedented job growth and the fastest economic recovery in nearly four decades. Since taking office, President Biden’s actions have resulted in the creation of 7.9 million jobs, including 473,000 in manufacturing – more jobs in the first 14 months of any presidential term.

Businesses are investing in America again, bringing home well-paying manufacturing jobs. From semiconductors to advanced batteries and other cutting-edge sectors, companies are opening new facilities and announcing commitments to produce the world’s most advanced technologies in the United States.

This is only the beginning of a broad revival of American industrial power. Maintaining this momentum is key to easing price pressures across our economy and lowering inflation. That’s why the President is committed to doing more in America, strengthening our supply chains, strengthening American leadership in the industries of the future, and reducing costs for families. It starts with the historic resources of bipartisan infrastructure law, which are rebuilding our roads, bridges, ports, airports and making our businesses and workers more globally competitive. And we can take the next step by passing the bipartisan Innovation Act, which will make generational investments in innovation, domestic manufacturing and lower prices through stronger supply chains.

AM Forward builds on this work and advances key administration goals:

  • More resilient and innovative supply chains, by investing in small and medium enterprises;
  • Developing the industries of the future, overcoming coordination challenges that limit the adoption of new technologies such as additive manufacturing; and
  • Both invent and manufacture more in America, through investments in regional manufacturing ecosystems.

Each of these goals is also advanced by the Bipartisan Innovation Act (BIA), which establishes a supply chain office in the Department of Commerce, supports foundational technologies such as additive manufacturing, invests in regional technology centers and increases the funding from Manufacturing USA. Institutes and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Keeping pace with technological change should not be the ability of the few, nor a distant goal, out of reach for most of our manufacturing base. It should be a mainstay of American industrial competitiveness – something that is widely deployed and available to businesses big and small. Adopting the BIA will put important new technologies like additive manufacturing into the hands of entrepreneurs and businesses across the country, increasing the productivity and resilience of American manufacturers while reducing costs for American families. There is an urgent need for Congress to act quickly to pass the BIA, sending it to the President’s office for his signature.

But too few American companies use 3D printing or other high-performance production technologies. That’s why President Biden is pleased to join several major US companies in celebrating the launch of AM Forward, a voluntary pact between large, iconic manufacturers and their smaller US-based suppliers. GE Aviation, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Siemens Energy are the first participants in AM Forward. These leading manufacturers will support their US-based suppliers’ adoption of new additive capabilities, helping transform shops across the country.

In additive manufacturing, producers transmit computer data to industrial 3D printers. In turn, these machines manufacture parts on demand, directly in the suppliers’ own workshops. Companies use this capability to reduce the number of parts required for an application, to manufacture replacement parts one at a time as needed, and to design high-performance components in various industries ranging from aviation to medical devices.

With AM Forward, each of these iconic companies will make it clear, public commitments purchase additively produced parts from smaller US-based suppliers; train the workers of their suppliers on new additive technologies; provide detailed technical assistance to support the adoption of new capabilities by their vendors; and engage in the development and certification of common standards for additive products.

Among other public commitments:

  • GE Aviation will target small and medium-sized suppliers to compete for 50% of RFQs sent on products manufactured using additive or related technologies; and will target 30% of its total external sourcing of additively manufactured parts from US-based SMB suppliers.
  • Raytheon will seek the involvement of SMB manufacturers in more than 50% of its requests for quotations on products made using additive technologies; the company will also look to simplify and speed up the AM parts sourcing process.
  • Siemens Energy will aim to purchase 20-40% of total externally sourced AM parts and services from US-based suppliers and partners. It will engage 10-20 US SMB vendors to help them improve their AM capability. And, it will also train 10 to 20 SME suppliers on inspection and post-processing best practices.
  • Lockheed Martin will work with its SME suppliers to conduct research aimed at improving the performance of additive manufacturing additive manufacturing techniques specifically focused on the use of 3D printing as an alternative to castings and forgings; and it will additionally participate in technical university and college programs for additive workforce development, including coursework and apprenticeship.
  • Honeywell will target U.S.-based SMB suppliers to compete on request for quote sets submitted for products, machinery, manufacturing tools and/or manufacturing process development using additive or related technologies. It will also offer technical assistance in part design, data generation, machine operation, post-processing, part inspection/quality management to its SME suppliers.

AM Forward is an entirely voluntary pact open to any OEM to participate, provided they are willing to publicly commit to supporting their vendors’ adoption of additive capabilities. It will be supported by Applied Science & Technology Research Organization (ASTRO), a non-profit organization.

To support AM Forward, the Biden administration has identified a range of federal programs that U.S. SMBs can use to support their adoption of additive capabilities and increase their competitiveness. The Administration’s actions are intended to help overcome common challenges that have slowed the deployment of AM technologies, particularly among smaller manufacturers.

They include:

  • Provide access to capital to our manufacturing SMEs: Providing affordable financing to small manufacturers will support the installation of additive equipment by reducing its cost. To address this issue, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will make its Business and Industry program available to rural manufacturers to support the purchase of new additive machinery and the training needed to upgrade their workforce. The Export-Import Bank will highlight its new national loan program that can help manufacturing SMEs upgrade their existing production equipment. And the Small Business Administration will work with AM Forward participants on how its 504 Lending Program and Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program can support the widespread deployment of new additive capabilities in American industry.
  • Delivery technical assistance from the federal government and equipment manufacturers to our manufacturing SMEs: SMB manufacturers have noted the need for technical support make maximum use of new production technologies such as 3D printers. To support AM Forward, the Department of Energy will make its Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory available to SMB manufacturers to test new additive techniques. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership will provide enhanced technical assistance; and the Department of Defense (DOD) will use its Mentor Protégé program to reimburse the cost to large OEMs participating in AM Forward for providing technical assistance to their small US-based vendors owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged. The DOD’s Manufacturing Technology Program Office will work with America Makes, a DOD-sponsored manufacturing innovation institute, and AM Forward members on a standardization pilot project.
  • Investing in the Additive Manufacturing Workforce: To fully benefit from the use of additive capabilities, SMB manufacturers need to train their workforce differently to successfully deploy additive capabilities, including worker development. America Makes will develop a workforce training program with AM Forward participants; and, with the U.S. Department of Labor, will help manufacturers launch apprenticeship programs in additive manufacturing.
  • Setting industry standards: Finally, since 3D printing requires different process standards and certifications, the U.S. Department of Commerce – through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – will conduct measurement science research to overcoming key barriers to the widespread use of metal-based additive manufacturing, developing the technical basis for new high-priority standards, and disseminating these results to AM Forward participants by leading standards development within ASTM International, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and other standards bodies.
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