Additive manufacturing, often referred to as three-dimensional (3D) printing, is a way of making products and components from a digital model. It is being applied in a wide range of industries, including defense, aerospace, automotive, medical, and metals manufacturing. Like an office printer that transfer 2D digital files onto a piece of paper, a 3D printer follows a digital blueprint as it deposits thin layers of material, one after another, until the as-designed component has been created. There are many different technologies for additive manufacturing. Each is suited to different product applications and requirements. Some of the technologies have been used for rapid prototyping for decades, but new developments are enabling their use for actual production.
Key benefits of additive manufacturing are: 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, compared to today’s ‘subtractive’ manufacturing processes, additive processes will reduce energy use by more than 50 percent.
America Makes (www.americamakes.us) aims to accelerate the development and transfer of additive manufacturing technologies to the nation’s manufacturing sector and to increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness by:
First-year efforts focused on bringing together the Institute’s many member organizations, establishing its Innovation Factory, further developing roadmaps for the Institute and its initiatives, and starting research and development projects. Achievements include:
For further updates, see the America Makes website: www.americamakes.us.
In 2012, President Obama called for the creation of a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), consisting of regional hubs that would accelerate development, scale-up, and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies. As a first step, the Administration initiated a competition to launch an institute that would further U.S. capabilities in an important emerging manufacturing technology and would pilot principles and approaches to guide the design and operation of future NNMI institutes. Six federal agencies — the Departments of Defense, Energy, Commerce, and Education; the National Science Foundation; and NASA — jointly committed to form 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 that included technical and business plans and detailed steps to accelerate research, development, and demonstration in additive manufacturing and to transition technology to manufacturing enterprises in 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.
On Oct 8, 2013, the institute announced a new identity, America Makes. This new brand and name sets the stage for all those working and innovating in additive manufacturing and 3D printing to realize the mission of reinvigorating the nation's manufacturing industry and jobs market by sending a strong message. According to Ralph Resnick, Founding Director of the Institute and NCDMM President and CEO, "America Makes is a vehicle for the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute to raise our profile, reach a wider audience to include the hobbyist and the entrepreneur, and ultimately, provide a richer member experience. America Makes sets the stage for us to realize our mission of reinvigorating the U.S. manufacturing industry and jobs market by serving a strong message. America Makes is our call to action. America Makes challenges the perception of manufacturing. America Makes is a far-reaching movement that goes beyond the walls of industry and into the homes of individuals. This is how we will become competitive. This is how we grow our nation’s economy and get ahead. This is how we lead. When America Makes, America Works!"
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)