Guam Industry Forum talks about 3D printing opportunities | Guam News

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The 2022 Guam Industry Forum looked at the advancement of technology on the island, in particular 3D printing, its benefits and its potential for use in military and commercial reinforcement.

Applied Science & Technology Research Organization of America, or ASTRO, a nonprofit think tank advancing the public good through manufacturing policy and technology development, took the initiative to explain to attendees in Guam Industry Forum what it does and how it is involved locally.

“We do a whole range of business, our primary focus is national security,” said Neal Orringer, president of ASTRO America. “We work hard to provide advice and advice to key executives in the manufacturing industry and we do a lot of national security research.”

ASTRO America signed a contract with the Guam Economic Development Authority in August to conduct a 12-month study of local 3D printing.

“There are two phases, one is a feasibility analysis to understand exactly what the challenges are and what the conditions are on the island to meet the construction needs,” Orringer said, later adding, “The phase two is going to be the actual establishment of an implementation plan, so we’re taking a 12-month initiative and we’re in the middle of our first phase.”

The expected outcomes, according to the study, are to establish a baseline analysis of Guam’s economic readiness for feasible adoption of additive manufacturing, or AM, including:

  • Access current capabilities and needs for supply chain development.
  • Potential strategies for developing such a workforce and these capabilities.
  • Potential demand, including US government stakeholders.

Orringer posed a rhetorical question to attendees, “Why do we care about 3D printing and why does it make sense for Guam?”

“Our belief is that the ability to print parts at the point of need, on demand, would allow such incredible potential to address the logistics challenges affecting our DOD customers, as well as commercial customers,” Orringer said.

In May, President Joe Biden’s administration celebrated the launch of AM Forward and called on Congress to pass the bipartisan Innovation Act, as Biden’s top economic priority is to fight inflation by cutting costs faced by working families and reducing the federal deficit.

One way to do that is to rely on more American-made products, Orringer said.

“We think this could be a very important tool to reduce the logistics queue, reduce warehouse investitures and really overcome that guessing game. How often do we encounter situations where you are trying to determine and predict what type of part is going to break down, and then you have to wait not just months, but sometimes a year to commandeer parts from the continent,” Orringer said.

He noted that with 3D printing on the island, the lead time would be days instead of months.

There are other ancillary benefits to be gained, he said, such as strengthening America’s security in the Indo-Pacific region, creating a powerful engine of economic development and the source of economic growth.

“This could be a catalyst for direct investment from major aerospace, defense and additive manufacturing companies,” he said, later adding, “We’re already starting to talk to really interested parties on the American continent”.

Orringer gave attendees an introduction to 3D additive manufacturing, noting that there are a multitude of 3D printing technologies, including powder bed fusion and stereolithography.

“There are actually more than seven 3D additive technologies,” Orringer said. “One being powder bed fusion, most common for aerospace applications, … but we also have applications for medical implants.”

Powder Bed Fusion involves a moving laser selectively melting the powder, Orringer said. An electron beam laser can be used on materials such as metal, polymer or ceramic. Stereolithography involves the use of a polymer process, which has enough precision to create medical implants such as hearing aids or dental aligners.

“A lot of people think we’re talking science fiction, but it’s been around for 30 years. I think there is a real opportunity here to bring something to the island if we are able to put in place the necessary workforce and technology and the supply chain,” he said. he declares.

In fact, the DoD plans to use 3D printing technology called material extrusion, Orringer said, adding that the material extrusion method is capable of creating complex concrete shapes.

“There’s a growing US military presence. … We’ve spoken with people … to work through the logistical challenges and I think there’s a lot of fruit at hand, based on our conversation,” he said. -he declares.

For Guam, three AM centers are offered: an AM qualification and teaching lab, a rapid prototyping center, and spares and production.

According to Orringer, this is just the beginning of the conversation.

“We’re really excited to be here. We really believe there are opportunities in Guam, not just the center of excellence or 3D printing or both, …. (but also) transshipment to the United States as well as perhaps an opportunity to be a regional player,” Orringer said.

He said a timeline to set up 3D printing capabilities in Guam is 12 to 24 months.

“The challenge is trying to solve some of the workforce development issues. I’m always a conservative person when it comes to setting expectations, so I would say 24 months would be a good target to get things up and running,” Orringer said.

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