Additive Manufacturing: From Form to Function
Air Force Research Laboratory, Munitions Directorate (AFRL/RX) Wright Patterson AFB United States
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This article explores the status and opportunity space of additive manufacturing AM for defense efforts, while explaining its shaping for multidomain land, air, maritime, space, and cyberspace applications through strategic and operational agility. As an efficient tool for design reiteration and rapid prototyping, AM is changing the landscape of the US manufacturing base. Technological advances in the private sector are being implemented into national defense efforts, including investment in a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation NNMI.However, for AM to be considered a game changing technology, increases in functionality of the fundamental building-block materials and printer configurations are needed to enable the most revolutionary applications. Simply put, the vision is to move additive manufacturing technology from form to function. In this way, AM can be increasingly used in military mission areas such as logistics, sustainment, and modular weapons development.