Manufacturing Tech: The Heart of Defense Innovation nathan dodds August 18, 2023

Manufacturing Tech: The Heart of Defense Innovation

In the age of relentless technological advancement, the U.S. Defense Department recognizes manufacturing as a linchpin in its national security framework. Steven G. Wax, a pivotal figure in Pentagon’s technological endeavors, recently emphasized the paramount role manufacturing plays in equipping the military for both deterring and, if necessary, enduring conflicts.

At a recent America Makes Members Meeting Exchange, Wax shed light on the 14 essential technology domains pinpointed in the National Defense Science and Technology Strategy. This diverse array spans from biotechnology and microelectronics to hypersonics and renewable energy storage. The underlying message? Without cutting-edge manufacturing, these technologies remain mere concepts. As Wax succinctly put it, “if you cannot make it, you cannot have it.”

Among the manufacturing techniques in focus, additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) stands out. It’s not just about creating objects; it’s about revolutionizing the industrial base. The realms this technology touches upon include space technology, renewable energy, microelectronics, and more. By enabling affordable production of these innovative tools and systems, 3D printing serves as a bridge between conception and realization.

The synergy between the public and private sectors is paramount to bringing these manufacturing advancements to fruition. Through initiatives like America Makes, launched by the DOD in 2012, a confluence of industry experts, academicians, and government representatives work together. The collective aim? Accelerate the adoption of transformative manufacturing techniques in defense and boost the U.S.’s global manufacturing competitiveness.

Since its establishment, America Makes has steered 58 projects under the DOD banner, focusing on enhancing mission-critical systems and refining military supply chains and processes. Wax celebrates the success of this partnership, emphasizing its role as a cornerstone in the strategic deployment of additive manufacturing across the defense sector.

The journey of the past decade underscores the significance of manufacturing tech in defense strategies. As the boundaries of what’s possible expand, the interplay of technology and defense will undoubtedly continue to be a defining narrative for the years ahead.

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