Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, and Northrop Grumman, American multinational aerospace and defence technology company, are all set to join the White House-backed Additive Manufacturing Forward (AM Forward) program, which aims to assist smaller US-based suppliers in increasing their use of 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing technologies.
The voluntary program, announced by President Joe Biden in May, aims to increase the use of additive manufacturing by suppliers. The Biden administration sees it as a breakthrough that will allow American manufacturers to thrive and create jobs.
Additive Manufacturing Forward (AM Forward)
The non-profit Applied Science & Technology Research Organization of America organizes the Additive Manufacturing Forward (AM Forward) program (ASTRO America).
“The supply chain crisis isn’t just about building out ports. It’s about building up parts – right here in America’s small business factories.”– Neal Orringer, CEO, ASTRO America
The first companies to commit were GE Aviation, Siemens Energy, Raytheon Technologies, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin.
The manufacturers say they will buy additively manufactured parts from smaller US suppliers, train supplier employees on new additive technologies, provide technical assistance, and participate in standard development and certification.
Boeing and Northrop Grumman both want to see more small and medium-sized businesses competing for quote packages for products made with additive manufacturing. Boeing also plans to increase qualified small and medium supplier capacity by 30%, as well as provide technical guidance to meet qualification requirements.
“We know the competitiveness of the U.S. industrial base, including Boeing, relies on the capability of a wide spectrum of suppliers producing and post-processing critical aerospace parts.”– Melissa Orme, Boeing’s vice president for additive manufacturing
Such technologies can cut part lead times and material costs by 90% while also cutting energy consumption in half.
According to the White House, not enough American businesses are utilising 3D printing or other high-performance advanced manufacturing technologies. The program could be expanded to the automotive or semiconductor industries.
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