About the AM Forward Compact

Building Supply Chain Resilience Through Partnerships in 3D Printing and Business Support

AM Forward Logo
AM Forward Logo

In May 2022, ASTRO America proudly joined President Joe Biden in the launch of AM Forward, a program designed to transform key U.S. supply chains by helping small U.S.-based companies adopt additive manufacturing (AM).

Seven companies—Boeing, GE Aerospace, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, RTX, and Siemens Energy— signed up, each making specific commitments for demand and support to small business suppliers.

As coordinator and implementer of AM Forward, ASTRO has worked with our government and industry partners to develop a strategy that will advance our goals in three fundamental ways—helping small business suppliers access capital, (2) supporting qualification research and (3) developing specialized workforces.

President Biden with AM Forward founding partner CEOs at launch event in Cincinnati, OH

AM Forward Consists of Three Main Thrusts:

COMMON AM QUALIFICATION

ACCESSING CAPITAL

REGIONAL INNOVATION & WORKFORCE

COMMON AM QUALIFICATION

ASTRO is accelerating and scaling AM adoption by developing a common template to rapidly and affordably qualify a metal AM process based on multiple OEMs proprietary requirements.

Currently, ASTRO is partnering with three leading aerospace manufacturers, Pratt & Whitney, Honeywell, and GE, to make it easier for small 3D printing vendors to become their suppliers. Currently, each aerospace manufacturer has a different process for formally onboarding capabilities into their supply chains – validating that a new supplier or machine in their facility demonstrates repeatability, reproducibility, predictability, safety, and consistency in production. 

With this new partnership, rather than requiring small business vendors to go through each different process (depending on the particular engine company-customer), the companies are working with ASTRO to harmonize an approach for prospective vendors to become eligible 3D parts producers.

Specifically, ASTRO will work with these partners to:

  • Establish a plan and requirements for a common AM qualification template
  • Generate a detailed AM qualification template, based on Systems Engineering methodology, that defines requirements sufficient to meet OEM needs for Operational Qualification (OQ) and Installation Qualification (IQ).
  • Identify a specific material/ machine combination to demonstrate the common qualification template with analytic analysis conducted by ASTRO America.
  • Review the analytic demonstration results with a Government Advisory Team comprised of leading AM officials from several federal agencies.

More Specifics HERE

ACCESSING CAPITAL

ASTRO is helping make available new resources for companies to afford additive manufacturing adoption. ASTRO is partnered with Stifel North Atlantic to establish a new private equity fund through the joint SBA-DOD Small Business Investment Company Critical Technologies initiative. This effort pairs private capital with SBA administered leverage, to catalyze investment in US national security-vital technologies and production processes. Recently, U.S. Small Business Administrator Isabel Guzman and White House National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard announced that the Stifel North Atlantic / ASTRO America received a “Green Light” to raise private capital for these purposes.

Officially called the AM Forward Critical Technologies SBIC, the Fund is actively fundraising and moving forward with the final SBA licensing process.

More Info HERE

REGIONAL INNOVATION & WORKFORCE

ASTRO is working with AM Forward industry partners and Universities across the state of Florida to build a robust regional partnership rooted in scientific and technological innovation. Awarded a National Science Foundation “Regional Innovation Engine “planning grant,” ASTRO is working with industry, academic, and local economic development partners to launch a future for in-place innovation in Florida’s aerospace and energy generation sectors. Through this project we will grow regional economies through research and partnerships, and support specialized higher education programs to bring the high-tech additive workforce that our AM Forward community needs to grow and stay competitive.

More Info HERE

Other AM Forward initiatives include:

Additive Manufacturing Midwest Market Information Workshop: ASTRO recently partnered with the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) – part of Wichita State University (WSU) to identify key small and medium sized AM suppliers in the Midwest that could benefit from free training at a future AM Workforce Development Center; Our workshop took place on September 27-28, 2023.
More Info HERE

Reconfigure Virginia’s Manufacturers for Modernization Program: ASTRO is partnered with Virginia Tech to help broaden additive manufacturing adoption among machine shops across the commonwealth of Virginia. This effort is meant to help strengthen resilience of the state’s Defense organic base as well as key Defense/Aerospace supply chains. More information is coming soon.

Leading U.S. corporations who have signed letters of intent outlining their specific commitments:

President Biden with AM Forward founding partner CEOs at launch event in Cincinnati, OH

Why Additive Manufacturing (AM)?

  • AM is one of the advanced technologies changing the face of manufacturing.
  • It is broadly applicable across industrial sectors and has been identified as a foundational technology that, once deployed at scale, can greatly increase the agility, capacity, and resiliency of U.S. supply chains.
  • Additive technologies can reduce part lead times by as much as 90%, slash materials cost by 90%, and cut energy use in half as compared to forging, casting, and other legacy processes.

A laser melts metal powder, which cools to a solid. The laser melts in areas corresponding to a layer in a computer design. Credit: Beamie YoungNIST

Want to Get Involved?

If you are a lead system integrator end-user, you should have at least one small/medium-sized supplier identified as a co-participant. If you are a small/medium sized supplier, you should have at least one lead system integrator designated as a co-participant ready to submit a letter. If you are an equipment producer, please note that AM Forward is focused on connecting the end-user or their designated supplier who might soon be ready to acquire an additive machine capability.

The AM Forward Compact is being managed by the Applied Science and Technology Research Organization of America (ASTRO America).