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Boeing, Northrop Grumman join 3D printing push

A 3D-printed satellite engine mount. (Boeing)

Boeing and Northrop Grumman have signed up to participate in the Biden administration's Additive Manufacturing (AM) Forward initiative, which intends to strengthen US supply chains by increasing the use of 3D-printed parts.

Both companies have agreed to expand opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) suppliers to provide AM parts, according to a 17 August announcement by nonprofit Applied Science & Technology Research Organization of America (ASTRO America), which supports AM Forward. Boeing will work with SMEs to increase its AM supply base capacity by 30%, while Northrop Grumman will seek to have SME manufacturers compete for 50% of its requests for quotes on AM products.

The White House unveiled AM Forward in May, saying that additive manufacturing often takes fewer resources and less time than traditional manufacturing processes. Five large companies, including Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies, participated in the launch of the initiative.

Matthew Bromberg, Northrop Grumman's corporate vice-president for global operations, wrote in his company's AM Forward “commitment” letter that “high-performance AM has potential applications across many platform types”, including aerospace structures, radio-frequency sensors, printed electronics, hypersonic weapons, and engines. AM also “provides a unique capability that supports continued sustainment of warfighter readiness throughout the entire life cycle of our military products that frequently outlast conventional supply chains”, he added.

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