In a significant move to advance the U.S. manufacturing sector, the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) and America Makes have recently announced substantial ceiling increases on their major government contract vehicles. This development marks a pivotal step in reinforcing the nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness, particularly in the areas of additive manufacturing (AM) technology and education.
America Makes, operating under the guidance of NCDMM, has been granted a remarkable $256M ceiling increase on its third Cooperative Agreement (CA3) with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). This agreement, initiated in November 2019, now boasts a government share contract ceiling value of $483M over seven years. Timothy Sakulich, Executive Director of the Air Force Research Laboratory, made the official announcement on August 15, 2023, during the Institute’s Annual Members Meeting and Exchange (MMX) event.
Founded in 2012 as the Department of Defense’s national manufacturing innovation institute for AM and the first of the Manufacturing USA network, America Makes is headquartered in Youngstown, OH. It comprises a diverse consortium of members from industry, academia, government, and workforce and economic development resources. Together, they are committed to accelerating the adoption of AM, enhancing U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, and fostering economic growth.
Today, America Makes and its members have implemented an applied research portfolio exceeding $400M, a blend of public and private funds aimed at propelling AM adoption to bolster U.S. competitiveness, resiliency, and security. The additional funding is set to further advance AM technology within the industry, expand the workforce, and extend the AM ecosystem.
John Wilczynski, Executive Director of America Makes, expressed his enthusiasm: “We are thrilled with the increased ceiling limit, as it directly impacts the success of our membership and the growth of the industry, especially for our warfighters. The additional funding reflects AFRL’s continued confidence in our work and mission. We are excited about the future prospects for the Institute and our stakeholders.”
In another notable development, on September 8, it was revealed that the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center (DEVCOM AvMC) at Redstone Arsenal, AL, raised NCDMM’s Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract funding ceiling by $176M to over $246M. Initially awarded at $69M, this five-year contract enables the DoD and other government organizations to access NCDMM’s advanced manufacturing expertise and services for nationwide project oversight.
The news highlights the accelerated rate at which the U.S. government, led by the DoD, is investing in AM and other advanced production technologies. The exact breadth of this strategy is hard to adequately capture, which is why Additive Manufacturing Research (formerly SmarTech Analysis) has published a report titled “Additive Manufacturing for Military and Defense” focused on U.S. military and defense initiatives to incorporate and leverage 3D printing into its operations.
As AM market competition heats up between the U.S. and China, where investment into 3D printing is driving sector growth of 30 percent annually, funding of programs like America Makes will only increase. As detailed in the report, the need to adopt digital manufacturing technologies isn’t just about national security at the level of arms production but in terms of creating supply chain resilience for the entire country and its allies.
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