Kristen Baldwin said weapon parts could be quickly prototyped using "additive manufacturing" in which 3D parts are created from digital data models that are fabricated by the successive layering of materials. Additive manufacturing could play a role in the development of hypersonic weapons.
Speaking yesterday at the Defense One-sponsored panel on next generation manufacturing, Baldwin noted that traditional manufacturing in which parts are forged by machining and turning is much slower.
But additive manufacturing would allow researchers and developers to test prototypes in an iterative fashion, so that an optimal design could be rapidly created, she said.
Baldwin said the U.S. is engaged in a global competition to develop these and other technologies — including artificial intelligence — and DOD's goal is to maintain its technological overmatch.
She said maintaining this overmatch is something a national imperative for all who can see the future and want to maintain economic and national security.
Baldwin outlined four department priorities for additive manufacturing — security, human capital, capturing new technology and adopting new technology: