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Tech Official Says Manufacturing Advances Are Key to National Security

A man in uniform measures a funnel-shaped object.
Perfect Measurement
A sailor assigned to the engineering department of the USS Bataan measures a 3D-printed object. The Bataan is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. Nov. 16, 2022.
Photo By: Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew F. Brown
VIRIN: 221116-N-HA192-1154Y

Advances in manufacturing capabilities are critical to the Defense Department's overall national security strategy, a senior Pentagon technology official said today.  

Steven G. Wax, performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense for science and technology, underscored the role of manufacturing in providing the U.S. military with capabilities to deter conflict or persevere in conflict if deterrence fails.  

In an address before the America Makes Members Meeting Exchange, Wax said each of the 14 critical technology areas outlined in the National Defense Science and Technology Strategy depends heavily on the DOD's ability to leverage cutting-edge manufacturing processes from the industrial base.  

Those critical technologies include biotechnology, microelectronics, hypersonics and renewable energy generation and storage, among others.  

"Not one of these critical technologies will succeed without advances in manufacturing," he said. "Very simply, if you cannot make it, you cannot have it." 

A fast-moving machine is photographed in motion.
3D Printer
A 3D printer produces a piece of equipment at Naval Station Mayport’s Southeast Regional Maintenance Center in Florida. The center provides maintenance to surface ships, modernization and technical expertise in support of the ships and facilities on base.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Austin Collins
VIRIN: 210609-N-KY668-1039Y

Wax specifically highlighted the role of additive manufacturing, commonly called 3D printing, in enabling the industrial base to produce these critical, cutting-edge capabilities affordably. 

"Additive manufacturing, particularly, touches many of these critical technology areas including advanced materials, hypersonics, space technology, renewable energy generation and storage, directed energy, and microelectronics," he said.  

Achieving the manufacturing advances needed to field these technologies, he said, is dependent on the close coordination and cooperation between the public and private sectors.  

DOD launched America Makes in 2012 to bring together members of industry, academia, government and workforce with economic development organizations in order to accelerate the adoption of additive manufacturing in defense-related manufacturing and to advance the United States' global manufacturing competitiveness.  

Since its inception, America Makes has undertaken a portfolio of 58 DOD projects aimed at supporting mission-essential systems and improving the supply chain and process readiness of the military services.  

A man in uniform looks at a 3D model on a laptop computer.
Model Sailor
Sailors assigned to the engineering department of the USS Bataan produce a computer-aided draft for a 3D printing project, Nov. 16, 2022. The Bataan is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship.
Photo By: Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew F. Brown
VIRIN: 221116-N-HA192-1163Y

"America Makes is a vital partner to the DOD strategic development and implementation of additive manufacturing across the department," he said.  

He added that America Makes' value has extended beyond DOD and has become a vital partner in the government's approach toward accelerating the adoption of additive technology.  

"I'm proud of how far we've come in the past 11 years, and I'm looking forward to successful collaborations to come," he said.

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