White House Puts $200 Million toward Military Manufacturing
We've known since Obama's State of the Union address this year that 3D printing is a key pillar in the president's plan for America's future in manufacturing, but on Thursday this was made even more clear with the announcement of a competition to create three manufacturing innovation institutes to be modeled after a government-funded 3D printing center.
The federally funded competition comes with a $200 million pricetag, which is part of a broader $1 billion effort to bolster the whole of American manufacturing.
The three institutes will be created across five federal agencies (Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA and the National Science Foundation) and will be selected through a competitive process led by the departments of Energy and Defense. The selection details will be announced later this year.
The ultimate goal is that the three institutes will serve as regional hubs where research, product development, industry, universities and community colleges come together, the White House said. To paint a clearer picture, the administration hopes they can become “teaching factories” where students and workers can design and pilot new manufacturing processes as well as products.
Serving as a model for these three new hubs is the 3D printing institute that the government launched late last year in Ohio.
But the goals of the new centers are quite a bit different than the Ohio institute. Two hubs will fall under the DOD's domain, and will work to streamline the production of “complex weapon systems” and lighter-weight materials for next-generation military vehicles and body armor.
Meanwhile, the third hub falls under the DOE's umbrella, and has been tasked with creating more efficient technologies for electric vehicles, the power grid, and military power generators.
Even though their goals sound pretty specific, the expectation is that military technologies won't be the only product to come from inside the walls of the new manufacturing centers. If the public-private partnership successfully draws in workers and students alike, a stronger workforce could result, and the technologies that are piloted in military devices could one day find their way into consumer devices as well.
And these are but three of 15 hubs that the administration hopes to construct. The President has called upon Congress to invest an additional $1 billion to the cause, but as for whether Capitol Hill will answer has yet to be seen.
Full story at the White House