America Makes Inks $322M Agreement with Air Force Lab

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – America Makes has signed a new seven-year, $322 million cooperative agreement with the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The cost-sharing and reimbursement agreement will support the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Manufacturing Technology program. America Makes will directly support modernization priorities including hypersonics, cyber and artificial intelligence.

“We have worked tirelessly together with the America Makes membership community during the last seven years and two previous cooperative agreements with AFRL to execute our mission of advancing the adoption of additive manufacturing,” said America Makes Executive Director John Wilczynski in a statement. “We have moved well beyond our initial pilot start-up phase and a project phase driven by consortium developed roadmaps to become the recognized voice of our industry.”

The agreement was finalized Nov. 26 and announced Monday at the annual Defense Manufacturing Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. 

“The new [cooperative agreement] certainly signifies a high level of confidence by AFRL in America Makes, our collaborations, and the additive R&D projects whose outcomes are beginning to make real industry impact, especially for the defense industry and its supply chain,” said Wilczynski. “Much of this success is directly related to what I believe is our biggest accomplishment to date and that’s overcoming the direct business competitiveness among our membership community. The intellectual property policy that we established as part of the membership agreement into the Institute to share IP has been vital to what our membership community has been able to accomplish together.”

Under the terms of the new agreement, America Makes will continue its public-private model. Roadmaps for the organization have pinpointed the materials, design, education, additive manufacturing community and ecosystem spaces as important focus areas, as well as expansion of the America Makes satellite system.

“Working with our membership community, we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time dedicated to road-mapping the technology and workforce needs of the industry,” Wilczynski said. “As a result, we are acutely aware of what steps in what focus areas we need to take in order to best address and resolve these needs. This focused coordination with our membership has been instrumental in the catalyzing results that we are seeing from our R&D projects and education initiatives that are now beginning to significantly impact industry.”

Founded in 2012 and based in downtown Youngstown, America Makes was the first of eight Manufacturing Innovation sites established and managed by the Department of Defense.

America Makes manages a portfolio of more than $215 million in public and private funds to advance additive manufacturing. With the new cooperative agreement, that figure will surpass $500 million within the next seven years, said Dean Bartles, president and CEO of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining.

“Our journey has been tremendously successful. We’ve achieved much success working with the America Makes membership community to innovate and accelerate additive technologies to increase our nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness,” he said. “We paved the way for subsequent Institutes to follow within the Manufacturing Innovation Institute network as an effective and sustainable example of the public-private partnership model. The award of our third cooperative agreement with AFRL is an undeniable testament to what we’ve accomplished and the promise of what we have yet to attain.”

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