Boeing and Northrop Grumman to boost smaller US firms’ usage of additive manufacturing

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Boeing relies on the capability of a wide spectrum of suppliers producing and post-processing critical aerospace parts. (Image: Shutterstock/aappp)

Boeing and Northrop Grumman are joining a White House-backed programme to enable smaller US-based suppliers to increase their use of 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing technologies. 

The programme, unveiled by President Joe Biden earlier this year, seeks to boost suppliers’ use of additive manufacturing (AM), which the Biden administration views as an innovation that will enable US manufacturers to flourish and create jobs.

Dubbed ‘Additive Manufacturing Forward (AM Forward)’, the programme is being organised by the non-profit Applied Science & Technology Research Organization of America (ASTRO America).

'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 ASTRO America’s CEO, Neal Orringer.

Boeing and Northrop Grumman’s commitments follow those of GE Aviation, Siemens Energy, Raytheon Technologies, Honeywell and Lockheed Martin, which were the initial companies to join AM Forward.

Each manufacturer intends to purchase additively produced parts from smaller US suppliers, while also offering to train supplier workers on new additive technologies, provide technical assistance, and engage 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 additive manufacturing. Boeing will also aim to increase its qualified small and medium supplier capacity by 30 per cent 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, Boeing’s vice president for additive manufacturing.

Reuters reported that the Biden administration believes the programme could also expand to the automotive or semiconductor sectors.

Related news: Boeing to accelerate additive manufacturing for aerospace using machine learning

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