3D printing research organization ADAPT gets funding from Department of Defense

The Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies (ADAPT) is a research consortium that was set up with the aim of advancing 3D printing technology and its applications in industry. It operates in partnership with the University of Utah and its particular focus is on metal 3D printing. A new program initiated by the Department of Defense will be awarding ADAPT and Colorado School of Mines with $1.5 million. The approximately $2.7 million program is known as Mountain West Advanced Manufacturer’s Network (MWAMN), and it is intended to improve economic and workforce resilience in response to changes in national defense spending.

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“This program creates a new manufacturing platform to advance economic and workforce resilience in response to changes in defense spending,” said ADAPT Technical Director Aaron Stebner. “Enabling manufacturers to efficiently deploy additive manufacturing processes helps diversify their product offerings, expand into non-defense markets, and provide resilient employment and value to their communities and the economy independent of defense spending.”

The MWAMN leverages ADAPT’s existing data infrastructure built with funding from a State of Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade Advanced Industries Accelerator grant and funds from founding member companies. This data infrastructure will help inform product and material change-overs; create new innovations and diversification; accelerate product development; and reduce reliance on the defense industry while improving the ability respond to new Department of Defense requirements.

Other network members include Citrine Informatics; Carnegie Mellon’s NextManufacturing Center; and the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership organizations from Colorado and Utah, Manufacturer’s Edge and the MEP Center at The University of Utah.

“Additive manufacturing holds the promise of enabling manufacturers to quickly adapt to changing market needs,” said Heidi Hostetter, ADAPT industry board chair. “Today, building new parts or switching materials with this technology takes too long. MWAMN is focused on radically shortening that time, lowering costs, and reducing the negative economic impact on companies and communities when defense programs and spending changes.” Other members of the network include Citrine Informatics and Carnegie Mellon’s NextManufacturing Center, and they will be pooling their resources and intelligence to allow defense-based companies to update their methods with 3D printing and expand into non-defense markets.

Together, members will network past, present, and future defense-supported metals manufacturers directly with advanced manufacturing research and development centers via a centralized, artificially intelligent database. This platform will enable defense manufacturing contractors to efficiently use AM processes to shorten product development cycles, expand product mix, enter new non-defense markets, increasing economic diversification of their businesses along with economic and workforce resilience.