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Obama Administration launches new public-private institute to support innovation in additive manufacturing technology with $30M in federal funding

The Obama Administration launched a new public-private institute for innovation in additive manufacturing technology. Additive manufacturing is defined in ASTM 2792-12 as a process of joining materials to make objects from three-dimensional (3D) model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies. Synonyms include additive fabrication, additive processes, additive techniques, additive layer manufacturing, layer manufacturing and freeform fabrication.

Additive manufacturing can encompass metals, polymers, and electronics (earlier post) and will have implications in a wide range of industries including defense, aerospace, automotive, and metals manufacturing. The Department of Energy anticipates that additive processes would be able to save more than 50% energy use compared to today’s subtractive manufacturing processes.

This new partnership, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), was selected through a competitive process, led by the Department of Defense, to award an initial $30 million in federal funding, matched by $40 million from the winning consortium, which includes manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organizations from the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia “Tech Belt.”

In March 2012, President Obama announced a plan to invest $1 billion to catalyze a national network of up to 15 manufacturing innovation institutes around the country that would serve as regional hubs of manufacturing excellence that will help to make our manufacturers more competitive and encourage investment in the United States. The President called on Congress to act on this proposal and create the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI).

To create a pilot institute to serve as a proof-of concept for the NNMI, five federal agencies—the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce, the National Science Foundation, and NASA—jointly committed to invest $45 million in a pilot institute on additive manufacturing.

The NAMII is intended to provide the innovation infrastructure needed to support new additive manufacturing technology and products to become a global center of excellence for additive manufacturing. This pilot institute will bridge the gap between basic research and product development for additive manufacturing; provide shared assets to help companies, particularly small manufacturers; access cutting-edge capabilities and equipment; and create an environment to educate and train workers in advanced additive manufacturing skills.

The Broad Agency Announcement (BAA-12-17-PKM) soliciting a recipient to establish the pilot institue noted that with the NAMII, the government anticipates advances could be made in the following areas:

  • Process Development. Examples include:

    • Incorporation of in situ metrology, process controls, and non- destructive evaluation to measure and improve part quality and system performance.
    • Improved as-built geometric accuracy, surface finish, corrosion resistance, and wear resistance.
    • Improved build rates, manufacturing throughput, process reliability, and yield.
    • Hybrid material builds for integrated, multifunctional properties such as tailored stiffness, electrical conductivity or cooling passages.
    • Improved resolution of printed features; micron-scale printing to enable high-performance electronic components.
    • Fabrication methods requiring lower energy-intensity.
    • Advanced methods to qualify and certify additive manufacturing processes and products rapidly and affordably.

  • Materials Research, for example:

    • Materials, part, and component characterization to better understand structure/process/property relationships, to exploit the greatest potential for additive manufactured parts.
    • Materials applied research as it pertains directly to improving multifunctional material properties for raw materials used in additive processes and for additive manufactured parts, such as thermal and/or electrical properties.

  • Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise Methodologies, for example:

    • Enabling the rapid design and fabrication of current and future platforms through integration of digital product designs and manufacturing capability models.
    • Leveraging computational tools and techniques to realize innovative designs though additive manufacturing.
    • Predictive physics-based modeling to improve part quality.
    • Modeling and simulation of additive manufacturing processes to include the integration of processing information, non-destructive evaluation, and stress analysis into the design process.
    • Computational modeling of material property variabilities resulting from additive manufacturing process variabilities, contributing to the digital thread to enable a single computer based technical description of the product at any point within the life cycle.

  • Open Architecture Development. E.g., Flexibility in raw materials, processing conditions settings, and utilization of open architecture machine control software that can be customizable for specific applications.

  • Mobility and Logistics of Additive Manufacturing Networks. This could include development of robust processes to enable part production at remote locations for point of use and supply chain analysis for component distribution and logistics optimization.

NAMII is led by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, and includes:

  • 40 Companies: Allegheny Technologies, AlphaMicron, Applied Systems and Technology Transfer, Autodesk, Boeing, Catalyst Connection, Energy Industries of Ohio, ExOne, FMW Composites, General Dynamics, General Electric, Honeywell, IBM, Johnson Controls, Kennametal, Kent Displays, Laser Technology Assts, Lockheed Martin, Lubrizol, M-7 Technologies, MicroFab Technologies, Morris, Northrop Grumman, nScrypt, OSRAM Sylvania, Optomec, Oxford Performance Materials, Paramount Industries / 3D Systems, Parker Hannifin, Plextronix, POM, RTI, Ruger, Sciaky, Stratasys, Stratonics, Timken, Touchstone Research Lab, Westinghouse Nuclear, Wohlers Associates

  • 9 Research Universities: Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University, Lehigh University, Penn State University, Robert Morris University, University of Akron, University of Pittsburgh, Youngstown State University

  • 5 Community Colleges: Eastern Gateway Community College, Lorain County Community College, Northampton Community College, Penn College of Technology, Westmoreland County Community College

  • 11 Non-Profit Organizations: Association for Manufacturing Technology, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, JumpStart Ohio, Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, MT Connect, NorTech, National Digital Engineering and Manufacturing Consortium, Ohio Aerospace Institute, Robert C. Byrd Institute, the Youngstown Business Incubator, and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers



A worthy technology; but it is blossoming on its own and does not particularly require large capital investment nor government help.

Just leave the money with the people - why run it through a bunch of bureaucrats.

If you can't make your own glory, ride with someone with a nice car.

And buy the gas - with his money.

Roger Pham

Additive manufacturing tech will save 50% of energy in comparison to substractive manufacturing (machining). This will help reduce the amount of coal burned in China and will greatly reduce global CO2 emission, since China relies mostly on coal for electricity, and coal releases a lot of CO2. This is akin to gov. tax incentive for PHEV and all the DOE's grants in clean and renewable energy.

However, how will this help American manufacturing jobs that have been mostly outsourced overseas? As a chief benefactor of this advanced manufacturing technology, China and the Chinese gov. should put in the lion's share of the cost of development of this technology!


I have real mixed feeling on this. I had one of the original stereo lithography machines around 1990. A stinking chemical mess that would make low fidelity brittle plastic parts. Then I had two fused deposition modeling (FDM) machines. Better but really only made plastic models. These machines are not rapid and the claim that they will save energy is some warped BS. It is possible to make just about any geometry but you may well design something that can not be mass produced in an efficient manner.

These machines are WAY WAY over hyped. They may be capable of making one-of-a-kind titanium bone plates but they will not make mass produced parts.

Also, I think that the federal government is right to sponsor basic research but should not try to pick winners and losers in the market place.


Losers picking losers.


This technology, as it matures, it will bring manufacturing back to the US. That will not help China, but it will also not create jobs here. To the contrary, it will eliminate manufacturing jobs everywhere. Whether that is good or bad, it is reality.


It is exciting, and it is evolving.

For modeling and prototyping is has huge obvious advantages.

But will it prove useful for mass production?


What is the most effective way to accelerate development of new fabricating methods:

1. Waite and see if private enterprise will do it?
2. Organize national and/or international competitions and give winners seed money.
3. Share development cost between government-private enterprises-Universities etc?
4. Make low cost loans to development groups equivalent to 50% - 60% of cost.
5. Gives tax credits equivalent to 50% to 60% of cost?
6. Gives subsidies and/or free hand outs equivalent to 50% - 60% of cost.

Digital designs to digital 3D printers-fabrication have potential. Many such machines (installed near or at the assembly plant) could supply precision parts on a just in time basis. Design changes could be less costly and much faster than current methods.


The best way is NOT gov involvement - not the US Post Office, Amtrak . . . . model.

This technolgy may grow well beyond models and prototypes but completely uninformed and unsubstantiated claims based on dreams are worthless.

If it can work, private enterprise investing THEIR OWN money will bring it on line fast - NOT politicians wasting other peoples money.


TT...personally, I think that all government hand outs, subsides, tax credits and other direct and indirect gifts to private industry should be declared illegal.

However, the public, via government $$$, could invest in private industries via loans at acceptable interest rates, preferred shares, guaranteed bonds and common shares just like current pension funds are doing.

No CEO should be paid more than 10X or 20X the average workers. Those currently getting as much as 325+X should be investigated and adjusted. Alternatively, taxation on earnings above $1M/year should be so high that the pubic (governments) would benefit the most.

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