3D Systems has been awarded a contract worth over $10M by the US Air Force to develop a large-format metal 3D printer.

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3D Systems, the prominent additive manufacturing (AM) company based in Rock Hill, South Carolina, has recently been awarded a significant contract by the US Air Force (USAF). The contract, worth $10,758,261, is for the development of a “Large-format metal 3D printer Advanced Technology Demonstrator.” The project will be carried out in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) in Ohio.

The funding provided by the USAF aims to support the advancement of large-scale hypersonic relevant metal 3D printing capabilities. The work on this project will be conducted both at the Rock Hill facility and in San Diego, with the expected completion date set for September 2025.

This is not the first time that 3D Systems has received funding from the USAF. In 2019, the company was awarded a $15 million contract by the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) to develop the world’s largest metal 3D printer. Since then, the US military has announced two more similar projects, one with Nikon SLM Solutions and another with Ingersoll Rand Machine Tool and its partners.

Despite recent challenges faced by 3D Systems, this contract serves as a testament to the company’s expertise and experience in the AM industry. It highlights the unique value that comes with being one of the most established companies in the field, especially as the rest of the world begins to take notice.

Another notable development in the AM sector is the progress being made on oil parts certification by the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Company (NAMI). NAMI is a joint venture between 3D Systems and Dussur, a Saudi Arabian government investment fund. While this may not have received much attention, it demonstrates the continuous efforts being made to push the boundaries of additive manufacturing.

Moreover, the proximity of 3D Systems’ headquarters to major aerospace and defense contractors, such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, further strengthens its position within the military industry. The company has established longstanding partnerships with these companies, as well as with Airbus. Additionally, Dr. John Tracy, the former CTO of Boeing, sits on 3D Systems’ board. It is common for the military to prefer working with familiar companies, making 3D Systems a likely beneficiary of future increases in the US military’s AM spending.

Considering that Lockheed and Boeing are part of the AM Forward companies, it is expected that they will play a significant role in any potential funding increase in this sector.

It is evident that 3D Systems continues to be at the forefront of developments in additive manufacturing. Despite the recent challenges, the company’s expertise and established relationships make it a reliable partner for the US military and other industries interested in the potential of AM.

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