Competitive technology is critical for national security, but so are manufacturing capabilities, according to a senior Pentagon technology official. According to Steven G. Wax, the acting deputy chief technology officer for science and technology of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), sophisticated technology means little if not backed by advanced manufacturing capabilities.
Speaking before the America Makes Members Meeting Exchange, Wax explained that each of the critical technology areas outlined in the National Defense Science and Technology Strategy, including biotechnology, microelectronics, hypersonics, and renewable-energy generation and storage, depends on the DoD’s ability to leverage advanced manufacturing processes from the industrial base. “Not one of these critical technologies will succeed without advances in manufacturing," said Wax. "Very simply, if you cannot make it, you cannot have it.”
Wax highlighted the role of additive manufacturing, often referred to as three-dimensional (3D) printing, to produce advanced but affordable manufacturing benefits. He noted, “Additive manufacturing, particularly, touches many of these critical technology areas, including advanced materials, hypersonics, space technology, renewable-energy generation and storage, directed energy, and microelectronics.” The manufacturing advances required to support these competitive technologies call for close coordination and cooperation between public and private sectors.
The DoD’s “America Makes” exchange was launched in 2012 to bring together academic, industrial, and government members to accelerate the adoption of additive manufacturing for defense-related projects and to drive the country’s global manufacturing competitiveness. Waxed offered, “America Makes is a vital partner to the DoD strategic development and implementation of additive manufacturing across the department.”