US President Joe Biden has announced a new initiative aimed at improving US domestic supply chain resilience by focusing on Additive Manufacturing. The AM Forward programme aims to encourage large companies to source additively manufactured parts from smaller US-based suppliers.
The voluntary compact is open to any OEM provided they are willing to make public commitments to support their suppliers’ adoption of additive capabilities. Thus far, GE Aviation, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Siemens energy have joined the initiative with the following aims:
- GE Aviation stated it will target small/medium-sized suppliers to compete on 50% of the requests for quotes that are sent out on products made using additive or related technologies; and will target 30% of its total external sourcing of additively manufactured parts from US-based SME suppliers
- Raytheon will seek SME manufacturers’ involvement in over 50% of its requests for quotes on products manufactured using additive technologies; the company will also seek to simplify and accelerate the procurement process of AM parts
- Siemens Energy will target to purchase 20-40% of total externally sourced AM parts and services from US-based suppliers and partners. It will engage 10-20 US SME suppliers to help improve their AM capability. It will also train 10-20 SME suppliers on inspection and post-processing best practices
- Lockheed Martin will work with its SME suppliers to conduct research to improve the performance of Additive Manufacturing techniques specifically focused on the use of AM as an alternative to castings and forgings. It will further participate in university and technical college programmes for additive workforce development, including coursework and apprenticeship
- Honeywell will target US-based SME suppliers to compete on request for quote packages sent out for products, machinery, manufacturing tooling, and/or manufacturing process development utilising additive or related technologies. It will also offer technical assistance in part design, data generation, machine operation, post-processing, part inspection/quality management to its SME suppliers.
The initiative will be supported by the non-profit Applied Science & Technology Research Organization (ASTRO). In a White House statement, the Biden Administration highlighted plans to launch federal programmes to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers support the adoption of adequate capacity and increase competitiveness through access to capital, technical assistance, and workforce training.
To fully benefit from the use of AM capabilities, the Biden Administration stated, SME manufacturers must train their workforce differently to successfully deploy AM technologies, including upskilling workers. For this, America Makes will develop a curriculum for workforce training with AM Forward participants and, along with the US Department of Labor, will assist manufacturers in launching apprenticeship programs in Additive Manufacturing.
“We are honored to be a part of this new initiative,” stated America Makes’ Executive Director John Wilczynski. “As America Makes continues to build the foundation for the acceleration of Additive Manufacturing, the AM Forward program 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 program evolves.”
The need for defining industry standards was also highlighted by the Administration. It was added that the US Department of Commerce – through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – will conduct measurement science research to overcome key barriers to the widespread use of metal AM. It will develop the technical basis for new high-priority standards, and disseminate these results to AM Forward participants through the leadership of standards development within ASTM International, International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and other standards bodies.