AM Coalition Calls for Improvements to U.S. Congress’ COMPETES Bill for Electronic 3D Printing


The Additive Manufacturing Coalition (AM Coalition) sent an advisory letter to the US Congress regarding its recently approved COMPETES bill, which passed the Senate on February 4.

The Creating Opportunity for Manufacturing, Prominence and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Bill covers a wide range of regulatory areas, including mentions of semiconductor production, strengthening supply chains and education and workforce programs relevant to the additive manufacturing industry. .

In response to the bill’s passage, the AM Coalition sent a letter to the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, and senior Republican member of the House Science Committee, the space and technology, Congressman Frank Lucas, who asks for additional support. for improvements in two critical areas: developing the workforce for additive manufacturing and investing in micro and nanoscale 3D printing of electronics.

Nano Dimension 3D printed electronics. Photo by Michael Petch.

Advances in 3D printed electronics

While still in the early stages of commercialization, the field of 3D printed electronics is attracting growing interest from R&D and investors. Recent industry innovators include NextFlex, a consortium dedicated to advancing the production of flexible hybrid electronics in the United States, which has just awarded $17 million to projects focused on electronics R&D. flexible, such as 3D printed radio frequency (RF) and hypersonic flight related parts.

Elsewhere, ETH Zurich spin-out Scrona AG has raised $9.6 million to develop a high-resolution electronic 3D printing approach, while Nano Dimension and sensor specialist HENSOLDT have co-founded the JAMES de $6 million, a community of designers focused on advancing additively manufactured electronics. (SOUL).

Advancements have also recently been made in 3D printing technology for robotic electronics, irregularly shaped electronics, and 3D printing electronics in weightless conditions.

The featured image shows the 3D printing process used by a Nextflex member to produce FHE components.  Photo via Nextflex.
The 3D printing process used by a Nextflex member to produce FHE components. Photo via Nextflex.

Support for AM electronics

On April 1, the AM Coalition sent a letter of advice to MP Johnson and MP Lucas asking for their support for improvements to the bill, particularly in terms of micro and nanoscale electronic 3D printing.

The letter highlights the severe shortage of semiconductors that occurred at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and calls on Congress to “fund not only traditional manufacturing technologies but also American companies that can today print electrical circuits and microchips”. Specifically, the AM Coalition has called on Congress to set aside at least five percent of domestic semiconductor production funding in the COMPETES bill for innovative manufacturing technologies, including 3D printing.

The letter urges: “While we support investment in the semiconductor industry in these bills, we would caution against putting all of our ‘eggs’ in one traditional manufacturing basket. A small investment to help develop these 3D printing technologies could spur the growth of whole new industries in the United States.

The letter also points out that other countries will invest in technologies such as 3D printing for electronics production, and if the United States does not follow, it could fall behind in implementing the technology.

Improve workforce development for AM

In its letter, the AM Coalition also requested congressional support to pursue workforce development to enable the broader application of additive manufacturing across all sectors of the U.S. economy. The letter points out that the United States is currently “significantly behind” workforce development efforts in Asia and Europe in this regard, and insists that it is “essential” to allow educational organizations to invest in such programs.

The AM Coalition calls for increased funding for universities, community colleges, and nonprofit training organizations to enable them to acquire industrial-scale 3D printers and post-processing systems and complete more 3D printing related programs across the country.

“While we recognize that advanced manufacturing is broader than additive, we believe it is essential that training organizations of all types are able to establish these programs without equipment costs being incurred. prohibitive,” the letter reads. The AM Coalition signed the letter concluding:

“We hope that with these additional provisions, the final bill will not only promote the expansion of science and technology and STEM programs, but will reinvent the American economy by fostering the growth of these critical areas.”

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Featured image shows Nano Dimension 3D printed electronics. Photo by Michael Petch.

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