Feature   Defense News

DLA Expands Manufacturing Tool in Fight Against COVID-19

April 29, 2020 | BY Michael Molinaro

A tool being developed by the Defense Logistics Agency can consolidate the Defense Department's technical data into packages for advanced manufacturing, making it a new weapon in the battle against COVID-19.

The military services are already using the Joint Additive Manufacturing Model Exchange, or JAMMEX, to access dozens of models for critical items such as face shields and surgical masks. 

Airmen wear 3D-printed face shields.
Face Shield
Air Force Airman 1st Class Trent Ramsey, left, an air transportation cargo processor with the 436th Aerial Port Squadron, and Air Force Senior Airman Dominique Hedges, a physical therapy technician with the 436th Medical Group, man a medical screening checkpoint while wearing 3D printed face shields at Dover Air Force Base, Del., April 10, 2020. Models for face shields can be downloaded from The Defense Logistics Agency’s Joint Additive Manufacturing Model Exchange.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Jonathan Harding
VIRIN: 200410-F-LS379-2012C

Still in development by DLA in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health and the military services, JAMMEX lets users download and print models from multiple sources through a single system, said Tony Delgado, an additive manufacturing program manager with the DLA Information Operations Research and Development Division.

"The value proposition is that JAMMEX can be the authoritative source for DOD [additive manufacturing] stakeholders," he added, "because behind the scenes, DLA is making sure that models that go on JAMMEX are approved models, regardless of origin." 

Work on the additive manufacturing portal began two years after the Office of the Secretary of Defense directed DLA to facilitate the exchange of data between the services. DLA information technology experts and logisticians met with industry and academia representatives in 2018 to gain insight into the technological landscape critical to the system's design.  

3D printer prints face masks.
Mask Making
Employees with Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center, Naval Construction Group 1, create 3D face masks to support the COVID-19 relief efforts aboard the Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy in Los Angeles, April 13, 2020. The Defense Logistics Agency’s Joint Additive Manufacturing Model Exchange has a dozen approved models for critical items such as face shields and surgical masks for military users.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Lopez
VIRIN: 200413-N-TP832-2054C
3D printer printing mask frames.
3D Printing
Marine Air Logistics Squadron 36 uses the Defense Logistics Agency’s Joint Additive Manufacturing Data Exchange to 3D print mask frames on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan, April 3, 2020. JAMMEX lets military users download and print approved models for critical COVID-19 supplies such as face shields and surgical masks.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Madeline Jones
VIRIN: 200403-M-MJ345-034C

DLA's technology accelerator team worked with DLA functional experts and military users to turn best practices into a prototype. The prototype is now in development by America Makes, a public-private partnership with member organizations from industry, academia, government and non-government agencies, and workforce and economic development resources. 

Despite ongoing development, the services have used JAMMEX to print spare parts such as anti-reflection devices, door handles, drone parts and brackets that would otherwise cost more and take longer to procure.  

JAMMEX has the potential to reduce readiness risks, improve responsiveness and decrease costs by providing alternate sources for hard-to-procure and obsolete parts, said Catrina Murphy, a DLA additive manufacturing program manager.

3D printer printing mask frames.
Mask Frames
Marine Air Logistics Squadron 36 uses the Defense Logistics Agency’s Joint Additive Manufacturing Data Exchange to 3D print mask frames on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan, April 3, 2020. JAMMEX lets military users download and print approved models for critical COVID-19 supplies such as face shields and surgical masks.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Madeline Jones
VIRIN: 200403-M-MJ345-087C

"Accelerating the adoption of the military services to load their approved models to JAMMEX, as well as investigating the feasibility of loading vendor-offered proprietary designs to JAMMEX for the military services' organic manufacturing base, are the next steps in propelling JAMMEX to be the DOD AM model authoritative source," she added.

(Michael Molinaro is assigned to the Defense Logistics Agency.)