The Pentagon is Investing Millions to Advance the Future of 3D Printing Tech
Clay Dillow
at 04:24 AM May 17 2012
3-D Makerbot-ing The Pentagon is getting into 3-D printing in a big way--$30-million big.
Andy Dingley via Wikimedia

President Obama's nationwide push for innovation in manufacturing reaches across agencies from the National Science Foundation to the Department of Energy, and now it's reaching all the way into the Pentagon where $60 million is being set aside for investment in 3D printing technologies. The DoD will fund a network of agencies, academic institutions, and companies to build on 3D printing tech with the overarching goal of building aerospace and weapons technology faster.

Of that $60 million, half will be allotted to researchers between now and fiscal 2014, with more than half of that - some $18.8 million - being handed over in fiscal 2012 alone. That means, adjusting for the usual bureaucratic waste, there should be somewhere between many and many-many millions spent to advance 3D printing tech this year alone under a framework that will hopefully push for the meeting of meaningful benchmarks.

Three-dimensional printing (or additive manufacturing, or rapid prototyping) is of course a fairly nascent technology that nonetheless holds great promise. While private companies like Makerbot, Stratasys, and even Hewlett-Packard have pushed the boundaries of the technology by developing less-expensive and more accessible printing systems to more people, the industry on the whole hasn't really benefitted from a huge injection of investment or a meaningful mandate from a body like the DoD - one that, when it puts its mind and money to something, can actually enable technological leaps forward.

The 3D printing industry was already doing fine - some analysts expect it to grow to $3.1 billion by 2016 - but a little help from Uncle Sam can't hurt. The Pentagon is taking proposals until June 14.


comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for the Pop Sci newsletter
Australian Popular Science
PopSci Live