Jul 7, 2017 | By Tess

The U.S. military budget for 2018, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), has been proposed, and included in its $639.1 billion budget is an increased spending on 3D printing technologies. While the budget must still be approved by Washington, the proposal lays out how increased spending on additive manufacturing within the military could be beneficial.

The budget itself covers funds for the Department of Defense’s military projects, military construction, personnel, as well as the appointment of a chief technology officer. Perhaps most notable about the budget, however, is its increased interest in 3D printing for military use. According to the budget, the technology can be used to revolutionize the industrial supply chain.

The proposed bill, presented by the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, outlines the “significant possibilities that additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, will provide to the Department of Defense, both in revolutionizing the industrial supply chain, as well as in providing radically new technological capabilities.”

It adds that the military would benefit from an increased number of 3D printers at “tactical levels,” and suggests that Defense Manufacturing Innovation Institutes should be established. The technology, it says, could also have applications for producing hard-to-find or obsolete parts, as well as helping to meet other demands that OEMs are unable to.

The NDAA also highlights certain challenges that still exist with the increased adoption of 3D printing, such as the difficulty in qualifying and certifying 3D printed parts (most critically those for “in-flight or safety-critical systems). The budget proposal notes the necessity in establishing standards, and certification processes for ensuring the quality of 3D printed parts.

The 3D printing budget is included in the $13.2 billion to be used for technology innovation, a sector which also includes DARPA’s Hypersonic Flight Demonstrations, the Perdix drone swarm, and more.

According to New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, she helped add language to the NDAA that helped to increase the “potential opportunities [in defense] for additive manufacturing companies” in New York’s 21st congressional district. Perhaps most notable amongst these companies, is Norsk Titanium, a supplier of 3D printed titanium parts.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21)

On a tour of Norsk’s 3D printing facility in Plattsburgh, NY, Stefanik said: “In Congress, I was pleased to recently work on a legislative initiative that will help 3D printing firms like Norsk, and I will continue my work to further develop a work force that can meet the needs of our high-tech employers…Our district continues to grow as a home to many companies that work with cutting edge technology, and I was pleased to include this language that will benefit the Department of Defense and these manufacturers.”

The proposed budget must of course be approved by Washington. The full NDAA proposal for 2018 can be found here.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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