AviationIndustrial Additive Manufacturing

Boeing and Northrop Grumman join AM Forward program

The White House-backed compact aims to help smaller US-based suppliers increase the use of 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing technologies

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According to Reuters, Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman are joining the Additive Manufacturing Forward (AM Forward) program – a White House-backed compact to help smaller US-based suppliers increase the use of 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing technologies.

The voluntary program, unveiled by President Joe Biden in May, seeks to boost suppliers’ use of additive manufacturing. AM Forward is organized by the non-profit Applied Science & Technology Research Organization of America (ASTRO America). The Biden administration views AM as an innovation that will enable US manufacturers to flourish and create jobs.

“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 Neal Orringer, CEO of ASTRO America.

Boeing and Northrop Grumman join White House-backed AM Forward. The program helps smaller US-based suppliers increase the use of 3D printing
Northrop Grumman’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

GE Aviation, Siemens Energy, Raytheon Technologies, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin were the initial companies to make commitments. The manufacturers commit to purchasing additively produced parts from smaller US suppliers, training supplier workers on new additive technologies, providing technical assistance, and engaging in standards development and certification.

Boeing and Northrop Grumman both aim to increase the number of small- and medium-sized suppliers competing over quote packages for products using AM. Boeing will also aim to increase its qualified small and medium supplier capacity by 30% and provide technical guidance to meet qualification requirements.

“We know the competitiveness of the US industrial base, including Boeing, relies on the capability of a wide spectrum of suppliers producing and post-processing critical aerospace parts,” said Melissa Orme, Vice President for additive manufacturing at Boeing.

Technologies such as AM have the ability to reduce part lead times and materials costs by 90%, and cut energy use in half. The White House says not enough American companies are using 3D printing or other high-performance advanced manufacturing technologies.

A Biden administration official told Reuters the program could expand to the automotive or semiconductor sectors.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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