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Proceedings Paper

A synopsis of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) investment in additive manufacture and what challenges remain
Author(s): Michael Maher; Adrien Smith; Jesse Margiotta
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Paper Abstract

DARPA’s interest in additive manufacture dates back to the mid-80s with seedling programs that developed the foundational knowledge and equipment that led to the Solid Freeform Fabrication program in 1990. The drivers for this program included reducing development times by enabling “tool-less” manufacturing as well as integration of design and fabrication tools. DARPA consistently pushed the boundaries of additive manufacture with follow-on programs that expanded the material suite available for 3-D printing as well as new processes that expanded the technology’s capability base. Programs such as the Mesoscopic Integrated Conformal Electronics (MICE) program incorporated functionality to the manufacturing processes through direct write of electronics. DARPA’s investment in additive manufacture continues to this day but the focus has changed. DARPA’s early investments were focused on developing and demonstrating the technology’s capabilities. Now that the technology has been demonstrated, there is serious interest in taking advantage of the attributes unique to the processing methodology (such as customization and new design possibilities) for producing production parts. Accordingly, today’s investment at DARPA addresses the systematic barriers to implementation rather than the technology itself. The Open Manufacturing program is enabling rapid qualification of new technologies for the manufacturing environment through the development of new modeling and informatics tools. While the technology is becoming more mainstream, there are plenty of challenges that need to be addressed. And as the technology continues to mature, the agency will continue to look for those “DARPA-hard” challenges that enable revolutionary changes in capability and performance for the Department of Defense.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 March 2014
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 8970, Laser 3D Manufacturing, 897002 (6 March 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2044725
Show Author Affiliations
Michael Maher, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (United States)
Adrien Smith, Strategic Analysis, Inc. (United States)
Jesse Margiotta, Strategic Analysis, Inc. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8970:
Laser 3D Manufacturing
Henry Helvajian; Alberto Piqué; Martin Wegener; Bo Gu, Editor(s)

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