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Home3D PrintingThe 3D printing industry responds to Biden Administration's AM Forward initiative

The 3D printing industry responds to Biden Administration’s AM Forward initiative

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Earlier this month, President Biden announced the launch of the AM Forward initiative in Ohio. The scheme has been initiated in partnership with GE Aviation, Honeywell Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Siemens Energy, who have publicly committed to supporting their small and medium sized suppliers in adopting and applying additive manufacturing technology. 

It is intended to support the reshoring of manufacturing to the United States of America and address a slower than desired uptake in additive manufacturing and other high-performance technologies. To facilitate reshoring of production and adoption of AM, the five aforementioned large companies have pledged to purchase additively manufactured parts from their SME suppliers, train workers and engage in standards development. 

Ten days later, we were in Detroit for the annual RAPID + TCT event, where 400 of the additive manufacturing industry’s companies were present to exhibit technologies that may be applicable to the AM Forward programme. So, we asked a select number of exhibitors for their thoughts, and below we have their responses plus comments from others that were distributed on the day of the announcement. 

Tali Rosman, General Manager, Elem Additive, Xerox

“First of all, obviously, I fully support it. I was in an event a few weeks ago, and somebody was saying that additive manufacturing has become a matter of national security. So when they said it, I fully nodded in agreement because if you can’t get the parts that you need – obviously in defence, it’s really obvious the impact of not being able to procure spare parts, but also in other industries, if you’re a production line for whatever product – you’re shut down because you’re missing a spare part for the machine and as a result, your production line is not running.

“I think the ability to encourage reshoring or at least developing the capability of a backup generator in the case of need to be able to produce parts domestically, that’s an incredible initiative, and certainly a much needed one these days. It was just announced, so the impact to the industry and where will the bulk of the impact go, where will the money flow, we’ll see. But I think as an initiative, it’s spot on.”

James Hedrick, Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, Azul3D

“I’m looking forward to seeing how it gets implemented. My big thing is [AM] needs to be able to be spread to all medium and small companies, not just the bigger companies, because they’re much more agile and nimble versus if you have the largest division of the largest company taking it. They’re more risk averse. And we’re at the stage where everyone wants to do 3D printing, but it’s still not 100% de risked. So, the more we can incline those medium people to take a little bit more risk at that borderline, the better it’s going to be for us actually making this happen.”

Dan Healy, Head of Business Development, Fast Radius

“I’m very supportive of it, Fast Radius is very supportive of it. I think it is long overdue. Adopting new technologies can be challenging when there’s already these entrenched technologies that everyone is familiar with. So the ability of this to help accelerate adoption is there. Now the challenge is, is that we can’t just say, ‘hey, let’s go out and make more additive parts,’ you have to be able to have partners that have the technology that enables additive to be competitive, to produce quality parts repeatably. So if we’re gonna go out and start to drive this shift, you want to make sure that those experiences that those have that are participating in it are high quality, they’re repeatable, they’re in line with what they see with traditional.

“Great initiative, it’s definitely long overdue, but I think the key is making sure that the right companies are leaned on to make sure that there is success with that initiative. I thank that is of critical importance.”

Ric Fulop, Co-founder and CEO, Desktop Metal

“Additive manufacturing has long held the potential to de-risk supply chains and enable new innovations. With manufacturing reshoring already accelerating as a result of the historic supply chain disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the AM Forward initiative is a timely and progressive approach to modernising our nation’s outdated manufacturing infrastructure with cutting-edge technologies that will help ensure that the work stays here for the long term.

“One of the key benefits of 3D printing is supporting localised manufacturing that reduces reliance on global supply chains. Parts can be stored as digital files and easily sent around the world to be downloaded and printed as needed. By allowing manufacturers to quickly produce parts when and where needed, the need for global shipping, large inventories and overproduction is greatly reduced. Additive manufacturing is the modern manufacturing technology of the future, and it’s the right time for American industry to support this transition to the next era of production.”

Josh Martin, Co-founder & CEO, Fortify

“I think it’s a great signal. There’s a tremendous amount of visibility on additive through that. And I know that the people involved, particularly LJ Holmes and the group that have come out of the DoD space, have had the industry’s interests in mind and can make stuff happen. I would love to see more specific deliverables and commitment from some of the large OEMs that have signed on as partners and sponsors because it seems to be very unclear – even if you go ask some of the additive leaders within those domains what exactly that means for additive and how they’re going to adopt it at a greater scale.

“I think it’s still early and I think a lot of people I work with are still wondering what that means. But I think if anything, it could chart a path towards additive manufacturing playing a more significant role in supply chain resilience. And if there’s anything that the last 36 months has taught us, it’s that there’s vulnerability there and additive can play a role.”

Lauren Tubesing, Director of Operations, Military Programs, GE Additive

“Public-private initiatives like the recently announced ‘AM Forward’ initiative will help to address DoD’s sustainment and readiness challenges head on. Strengthening US supply chains, by encouraging small and medium sized manufacturers across the United States to adopt metal additive technology will create a nationwide network of qualified additive manufacturing suppliers.”

Ellen Kullman, Chair of the Board of Directors, Carbon

“The AM Forward programme is further validation of the urgent need to rebuild agile manufacturing capabilities in the U.S. We’re at an undeniable inflection point — bringing digital manufacturing to U.S. businesses will be a critical component to the success of the American economy both now and into the future. The administration’s acknowledgment of 3D printing to boost the economy is a solid step forward and a proof point that digital manufacturing is critical in addressing our ongoing supply chain challenges and beyond.”

Robert Pohorenec, President, JEOL USA

“Well, clearly it’s going to be huge. I think it’s the government talking about something that they really didn’t even need to mention. We’re all going this direction with or without their help but it’s going to go a lot quicker with it. The interest from the number of defence contractors here [at RAPID + TCT] is mind blowing. I think 90% of the people we’ve talked to are in defence, military or aerospace with a defence connection. So you can feel that direction, that momentum going towards additive not to replace subtractive but maybe be more self reliant locally inside this country, or at least inside allies.”

John Dulchinos, President, GKN Additive

“Well, I’m not a big government person. I’m not a big consortium person, either. I think that ultimately the market and the free enterprise system needs to solve these problems. But I think anything that drives awareness and helps to educate the marketplace on new technologies should help to stimulate demand and help to create opportunities. Most of the companies who were announced as part of that were kind of in the defence and aerospace business, so it connects to government but in the bigger picture, I think it’s good for the 3D printing industry because more investment reinforces the value around additive manufacturing, and can create funds that can further the knowledge about these tools. All that, ultimately, is good for moving stuff forward.

“I think it will be helpful. I guess, to some degree, it’s kind of what happened in the EV market. And so I think we want to see demand stimulated and then we need to figure out what are those solutions that we can provide that really address those issues.”

Ted Plummer, Director of Product Management, Markforged

“I’m really excited about it. I think government sponsorships are a really good way to get small and medium businesses that maybe don’t otherwise have the resources – they want to, but they don’t know how to get started, and it’s expensive and there’s an education component to it – [to adopt]. So, I think the important issue is [this is] a really good way to make sure that there’s money available for these companies to make these investments and see that return. As this gets more mature, and there’s funding, it’s a great announcement. We still need to see the plan and how it’s actually going to be but we’re excited. And we’re ready to partner with the government, partner with these small businesses and provide them the skills, the training and systems to take full advantage of it.”

John Wilczynski, Executive Director, America Makes

“As America Makes continues to build the foundation for the acceleration of additive manufacturing, the AM Forward programme represents a proof of concept for the original vision of the institute – to utilise the public-private partnership model in collaboration with private sector innovation to propel advanced manufacturing industries forward. We look forward to working to engage our membership as the programme evolves.”

Brian Birkmeyer, Product Line Leader for Binder Jet, GE Additive

“I mean, for us, GE is a big company, so we don’t qualify as an SME, but we work with a lot of them. And I think it’ll push us to work with more of them across our GE Enterprise. But also, our technology can be proliferated amongst them. So, those who need to get into the industry, we can help with the expertise that we have to get those folks going and operating in additive, which I think will be a nice new twist to our market opportunities.

“I think it’ll be it will encourage those folks to take a harder look at additive that may have otherwise not, for whatever reason. I think it’s going to increase awareness, it’s going to help people understand, ‘hey I can go de-risk someone’s supply chain by bringing that technology in house.’”

Brian Neff, CEO, Sintavia

“We were very honoured to be chosen by both Lockheed Martin and Honeywell Aerospace to represent the AM supply chain in the launch of this exciting new initiative. The products that we design and print already power and cool the flight and launch vehicles of tomorrow, but the use case potential is practically limitless and the transformation is just getting started. AM Forward is an initiative that is critical to the long-term viability of American manufacturing, and we similarly call on Congress to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act to advance research and development into additive manufacturing and other transformational manufacturing technologies.”

Fried Vancraen, CEO, Materialise

“As a member of the additive manufacturing community, I can only be happy about the fact that there is support for our industry. At the same time I hope that the money is well spent because the industry has suffered in the past already from quite a few rounds of inflated expectations. And, again, the slow revolution will remain a slow revolution.”


Want to discuss? Join the conversation on the Additive Manufacturing Global Community Discord.  

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See the latest additive manufacturing and 3D printing developments in person by joining us at TCT 3Sixty in Birmingham, UK on 8-9th June.



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