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America Makes Announces New Seven Year, $322M Cooperative Agreement with Air Force Research Laboratory

By America Makes Press Release

Youngstown, Ohio — December 2, 2019. America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, proudly announces a new, seven year Cooperative Agreement (CA) with the Department of Air Force, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The CA is a Cost-Reimbursement/Cost Share agreement with a total funding value worth up to a combined $322 million of government cost and America Makes cost share. The Institute is sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) program, which focuses on cross-cutting defense manufacturing needs. The mission of America Makes directly supports the OSD ManTech program. In particular, the Institute looks to directly support the manufacturing technology needs for the OSD Research & Engineering modernization priorities, including hypersonics, cyber, and AI/machine learning.

The CA with AFRL was finalized on Tuesday, November 26th and announced today on the opening day of the Defense Manufacturing Conference (DMC) 2019, the nation’s premier defense manufacturing and industrial base conference, in Phoenix, Ariz.

“For America Makes, this new CA with AFRL marks a monumental milestone,” said America Makes Executive Director John Wilczynski. “We have worked tirelessly together with the America Makes membership community during the last seven years and two previous Cooperative Agreements with AFRL to execute our mission of advancing the adoption of additive manufacturing. We have moved well beyond our initial pilot start-up phase and a project phase driven by consortium developed roadmaps to become the recognized voice of our industry.

“The new CA certainly signifies a high level of confidence by AFRL in America Makes, our collaborations, and the additive R&D projects whose outcomes are beginning to make real industry impact, especially for the defense industry and its supply chain,” added Mr. Wilczynski. “Much of this success is directly related to what I believe is our biggest accomplishment to date and that’s overcoming the direct business competitiveness amongst our membership community. The Intellectual Property (IP) policy that we established as part of the membership agreement into the Institute to share IP has been vital to what our membership community has been able to accomplish together. That’s an aspect to our success as a collaborative consortium that I cannot stress enough.”

Driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), America Makes is the nation’s leading and collaborative partner in AM technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation. Established in 2012, it is the first of eight Manufacturing Innovation Institutes established and managed by the U.S. Department of Defense as public-private partnerships. America Makes is also a member of the Manufacturing USA® network, which seeks to secure U.S. global leadership in advanced manufacturing. America Makes is comprised of member organizations from industry, academia, government, non-government agencies, and workforce and economic development resources.

“Seven years ago, NCDMM embarked on a unique journey to demonstrate the effectiveness of a new model—a public-private partnership—as a vehicle to establishing a national center of excellence for additive manufacturing and reinvigorating the U.S. manufacturing industry and job market,” said Dean L. Bartles, Ph.D., FSME, FASME, NCDMM President and CEO. “Our journey has been tremendously successful. We’ve achieved much success working with the America Makes membership community to innovate and accelerate additive technologies to increase our nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness. We paved the way for subsequent Institutes to follow within the Manufacturing Innovation Institute network as an effective and sustainable example of the public-private partnership model. The award of our third Cooperative Agreement with AFRL is an undeniable testament to what we’ve accomplished and the promise of what we have yet to attain.”

Today, America Makes manages a portfolio of more than $215 million in public and private funds invested in advancing the state-of-the-art in AM in the United States. With the additional funding, that number in the next seven years will increase to more than a half of a billion dollars.

Under the terms of this new CA during the next seven years, America Makes will continue to employ the successful collaborative public-private model and to make continuous improvements to strengthen and further refine the Institute’s mission effectiveness and business resilience. The goal will be to create a more robust and capable manufacturing base to provide AM solutions to private and defense industries.

America Makes will also continue to cultivate its role as a convener, coordinator, and catalyzer. In fact, it’s America Makes’ role as a coordinator that has directly enabled the Institute to achieve the level of success it has.

“Working with our membership community, we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time dedicated to roadmapping the technology and workforce needs of the industry,” explained Mr. Wilczynski. “As a result, we are acutely aware of what steps in what focus areas we need to take in order to best address and resolve these needs. This focused coordination with our membership has been instrumental in the catalyzing results that we are seeing from our R&D projects and education initiatives that are now beginning to significantly impact industry.”

Moving forward and using the developed roadmaps as its guide, America Makes has identified specific areas that it will be focusing on in the immediate future, including the AM materials space, design for AM (DfAM), education and workforce, its membership community and AM ecosystem, and its Satellite Center model expansion.

Currently, America Makes sees the greatest need and opportunity resides within the AM materials space. The lack of materials design data for both metal and polymer is hindering the wider adoption of AM technologies and processes in general, and within specific industries like automotive, for example. With a greater understanding of the most critical materials and how to best optimize them for the available AM technologies and process would be a significant step forward industry-wide.

Within the education and workforce area, overcoming the skills gap that exists in the AM industry is a top priority. It’s not enough to adopt and implement the technology. Full commercialization of AM into production and supply chains cannot be realized without an acute understanding of how to best maximize the design freedoms and benefits of AM. Making design for AM (DfAM) courseware for designers more widely available at the academic level to include trade schools and universities, and the business level with apprenticeships and training, would spur innovation and generate substantial economic gains for the industry.

On the membership front, America Makes remains committed to further cultivating and evolving its community so that it represents a significant cross-section of the U.S. AM ecosystem. The America Makes @Program has been incredibly effective in opening up membership to small and medium-sized companies. The @Program offers cost share credits in lieu of the annual membership dues for those activities in which members are likely already working on and that align to the mission objectives of America Makes.

During the last year, America Makes also expanded its Satellite Center model, adding the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and Wichita State University’s (WSU’s) National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) to the regional ecosystem. The objective of the America Makes Satellite Center model is to extend the reach of the existing America Makes mission by complementing and expanding its current regional, industrial, and technological footprint. America Makes founded its first Satellite Center in 2015 at the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation on the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).

In summary, after seven years of operation, America Makes has made an indelible mark on the AM industry, defense sector, and on U.S. advanced manufacturing. With its third AFRL CA, the Institute is well positioned to make the next seven years just as remarkable.

Visit americamakes.us for more information about America Makes or on becoming a member. Follow us on Twitter @AmericaMakes.

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