Additive manufacturing, often referred to as three-dimensional (3D) printing, is a way of making products and components from a digital model, and is being applied in a wide range of industries including defense, aerospace, automotive, medical, and metals manufacturing. Like an office printer that puts 2D digital files on a piece of paper, a 3D printer creates components by depositing thin layers of material one after another using a digital blueprint until the exact component required has been created. There are many different technologies for additive manufacturing, and each one is best suited to different product applications and requirements. Some of the technologies have been used for rapid prototyping for decades, but new developments are allowing them to be used for actual production.
Key benefits of additive manufacturing are that it enables shorter lead times, mass customization, reduced parts count, more complex shapes, parts on demand, less material waste, and lower life-cycle energy use. The Department of Defense envisions customizing parts on-site for operational systems that would otherwise be expensive to make or ship. The Department of Energy anticipates that additive processes would be able to save more than 50 percent of energy use compared to today’s ‘subtractive’ manufacturing processes.
The focus of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (rebranded as America Makes in October 2013) is to accelerate additive manufacturing technologies to the U.S. manufacturing sector and increase domestic manufacturing competitiveness by:
America Makes' first-year efforts focused on bringing together its many member organizations, establishing its Innovation Factory, further developing the roadmaps for the Institute and its initiatives, and starting research & development projects. Highlighted achievements include the following.
For further updates, see the America Makes website at namii.org.
As of its one-year anniversary in August 2013, America Makes included the following organizations as members, with dozens of additional membership applications in-process:
Companies: 3D Systems, Abbatron, Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies Inc., APEX CNC Swiss Inc., Applied Systems and Technology Transfer, Automated Dynamics, Bayer Material Science, BioDevice Design, Boundary Systems, Catalyst Connection, ExOne, FMW Composite Systems, Fourth Economy, , General Electric Global Research, Innovation Works, Johnson Controls, Kennametal, Kent Displays, Liquid X Printed Metals, Lockheed Martin, Lubrizol, M-7 Technologies, Moog, Northrop Grumman, nScrypt, Optomec, OSRAM Sylvania, Oxford Performance Materials, PTC Alliance, POM/DM3D Technology, rp+m, RTI, Solid Concepts, Stratasys, Stratonics, Timken, Touchstone Research Lab, United Technologies Research Center, Wohlers Associates
Universities: Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University, Lehigh University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Penn State University, Robert Morris University, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, University of Akron, University of Connecticut, University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas-Austin, University of Texas – El Paso, University of Toledo, Wright State University Youngstown State University
Community Colleges: Northampton Community College, Westmoreland County Community College
Non-Profit Organizations: Association for Manufacturing Technology, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Concurrent Technologies Corporation, Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center, Energy Industries of Ohio, Greenleaf Corporation, IRC Network, JumpStart Inc., Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET), Manufacturing Resource Center, NorTech, Northeastern PA IRC, Northern Illinois Research Foundation, Northwest Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center, Ohio Aerospace Institute, Robert C. Byrd Institute, Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), TechSolve Inc., Youngstown Business Incubator.
As part of his plan to catalyze a nationwide network of regional manufacturing innovation institutes, President Obama also acted to launch an institute that would further U.S. capabilities in an important emerging manufacturing technology and to pilot principles and approaches to guide the design and operation of the NNMI. Five federal agencies — the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce, the National Science Foundation, and NASA — jointly committed to invest in a pilot institute.
On May 9, 2012, the federal government issued a solicitation for proposals from teams led by non-profit organizations or universities to establish an Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. The solicitation sought proposals, including technical and business plans, detailing steps to accelerate research, development, and demonstration in additive manufacturing and transition technology to manufacturing enterprises within the United States.
On August 16, 2012, after a competitive process, the Administration announced the selection of a new consortium led by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) to establish the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII).
For more information:
We Can’t Wait: Obama Administration Announces New Public-Private Partnership to Support (White House press release)
Obama Administration Announces New Public-Private Partnership to Support Manufacturing Innovation, Encourage Investment in America (Department of Commerce press release)
NCDMM is Chosen to Manage National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NCDMM press release)
Additive Manufacturing (Department of Commerce fact sheet)