Press Release: ASTRO America Announces New Push to Establish Investment Fund for Small Businesses’ 3D Printing Development

August 3, 2023. Bethesda, MD – On the heels of an historic meeting at the Pentagon, Neal Orringer, president of the Applied Science & Technology Research Organization of America (ASTRO America), lauded key government and industry partners in their efforts to ensure small U.S. Defense suppliers’ access to capital and state-of-the-art additive manufacturing or 3D printing. The focus of the meeting was the potential establishment of a Small Business Investment Fund.

“I want to thank the Deputy Secretary of Defense and SBA Administrator for hosting this important meeting with our AM Forward colleagues,” said Neal Orringer, president of ASTRO. “Recognizing the fragility in America’s supply chains, Lockheed Martin and GE are taking the lead in forming a public-private partnership to help provide small businesses with access to capital for additive manufacturing that will help re-onshore American manufacturing and provide economic development and jobs. If approved by the government to move forward, this fund will be a lifeline to help transition small businesses into 21st century manufacturing.”

ASTRO is the convener of parties and the implementer of AM Forward, helping partner companies support their suppliers’ adoption of additive manufacturing also known as 3D printing technology, in shops, plants, and factories across the nation. The initiative was launched by President Biden last May. Compact partners include Boeing, GE, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies, and Siemens Energy.

A critical objective of the AM Forward initiative is investment in the full spectrum of the defense ecosystem that will leverage advanced manufacturing techniques to produce innovative capabilities.

ASTRO is partnering with Stifel Financial, Lockheed, and GE to identify and potentially invest in lower middle market businesses working to increase American national security supply chain resilience while reducing production costs and timelines for critical components through additive manufacturing.

The meeting, convened in the Deputy Secretary of Defense’s conference room, included:

  • The Honorable Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA Administrator

  • The Honorable Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense

  • Ms. Bailey Devries, Associate Administrator of the SBA (OII)

  • The Honorable Heidi Shyu, Under Secretary of Defense (R&E)

  • Dr. Radha I. Plumb, Deputy Under Secretary (A&S)

  • Dr. Jason Rathje, Director of the Office of Strategic Capital

  • Dr. Joelle Gamble, Deputy NEC Director

As well as executives:

  • Ms. Amy Gowder, President & CEO of GE Aerospace Military Systems

  • Mr. Frank St. John, Chief Operating Officer of Lockheed Martin

  • Mr. Victor Nesi, President, Stifel

  • Mr. Neal Orringer, President, ASTRO America

Read a statement from Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon regarding the meeting here.

For more on AM Forward, click here.


The Applied Science and Technology Research Organization of America (ASTRO America) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, non-partisan Research Institute and Think Tank. It was established in 2018 to advance the public interest through manufacturing technology and policy. Led by manufacturing professionals with broad public and private sector experience, ASTRO America supports collaborations by government agencies and companies to address supply chain challenges in highly regulated industries, including aerospace and defense.

Find out more: