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Lockheed Martin, Raytheon back US effort to boost 3D printing

Raytheon Technologies 3D-printed this heat exchanger, which is designed for use in military and commercial jet engines. (Raytheon Technologies)

Several major companies, including Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies, have joined the Biden administration's new Additive Manufacturing (AM) Forward initiative, which aims to strengthen US supply chains by expanding the use of 3D-printed parts.

Under the initiative, or “voluntary compact”, which the White House unveiled on 6 May, Lockheed Martin has agreed to help its small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) suppliers improve their AM techniques, and will increase its participation in university and technical college programmes that develop AM skills.

“Over the past two years alone, Lockheed Martin has worked with SME suppliers to procure more than 25,000 AM parts, and we expect this trend to increase over the next five years,” the company wrote in its AM Forward “commitment” letter.

Raytheon indicated it will seek to have SME manufacturers compete in more than 50% of its requests for quotes on products made with AM. It will also aim to simplify and accelerate its procurement process for AM parts. “We see opportunity in new product development, current product manufacturing, and sustainment for components that are no longer in production,” Raytheon wrote.

Other companies that have made commitments through AM Forward include GE Aviation, Honeywell International, and Siemens Energy.

The nonprofit Applied Science & Technology Research Organization of America (ASTRO America) will support AM Forward, which seeks to recruit additional large companies to participate. The White House noted that the federal government has a host of programmes that SMEs can tap to enhance their additive capabilities.

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