Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman (NOC.N) are taking part in a White House-backed compact to assist smaller U.S.-based suppliers boost the use of 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing technologies.
The voluntary program, launched by President Joe Biden in May, aims to increase suppliers’ use of additive manufacturing (AM).
Operated by 3D printing, the technology enables complex shapes to be designed in layers from particles of plastic or metal. The Biden administration sees it as an innovation that will allow U.S. manufacturers to thrive and create jobs.
The program, Additive Manufacturing Forward (AM Forward) is conducted by non-profit Applied Science & Technology Research Organization of America (ASTRO America).
“The supply chain crisis isn’t just about building out ports. It’s about building up parts – right here in America’s small business factories,” said ASTRO America’s CEO, Neal Orringer.
Siemens Energy (ENR1n.DE), GE Aviation (GE.N), Honeywell (HON.O), Raytheon Technologies (RTX.N), and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) were the first companies to make pledges.
The manufacturers say they will train supplier workers on new additive technologies; offer technical assistance; buy additively produced parts from smaller U.S. suppliers; engage in standards development and certification.
Boeing and Northrop Grumman both seek to expand the number of small- and medium-sized suppliers competing over quote packages for products using additive manufacturing. Boeing will also seek to boost its qualified small and medium supplier capacity by 30 percent and offer technical guidance to satisfy qualification requirements.
Melissa Orme, Boeing’s vice president for additive manufacturing, said:
“We know the competitiveness of the U.S. industrial base, including Boeing, relies on the capability of a wide spectrum of suppliers producing and post-processing critical aerospace parts.”
Such technologies can shrink material costs and part lead times by 90%, and decrease energy use by fifty percent. The White House says very few American companies are using 3D printing or other high-performance advanced manufacturing technologies.
A Biden administration official told Reuters the program could diversify to the semiconductor or automotive sectors.