MatterHackersthe Southern California-based additive manufacturing (AM) original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and retailer, announced that it has entered into a partnership with the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific. Under the Cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA)MatterHackers will provide its expertise, equipment and print media as part of its collaboration with NIWC Pacific, to develop a wide range of military AM use case applications for the US Navy and US Marine Corps .
In particular, MatterHackers will focus on use cases related to equipping ground vehicles used by Marines. Parts successfully tested by MatterHackers/NIWC Pacific and the Marines will be sent to the relevant program offices for further testing.
In addition to manufacturing the Pulse line of 3D printers, a large number of different 3D printing materials, and design software for 3D printing, MatterHackers is also the largest 3D printing retailer in the United States. Thus, the aspect of the project mentioned by Major Audette, concerning the development of as many government and military applications as possible that can be used with commercially available printers, makes MatterHackers an obvious choice for the military with whom s associate here.
The NWIC Pacific has gone through many different name changes since it was formed in 1977 from two separate organizations, when it was first called the Naval Ocean Systems Center. More recently, it was named Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, before its last name change, to NIWC Pacific, in 2019.
Notably, NIWC Pacific is a Navy working capital (NWCF), meaning it is funded by Navy sponsors, not the Navy, as opposed to congressional appropriations. Like the WCF organizations associated with other branches of the U.S. military, the NWCF organizations are primarily dependent on revenue from sales of the projects they develop and the services they provide.
Therefore, the MatterHackers partnership could end up being much more lucrative than the average government project, depending on the applications that ultimately result from the company’s work on this CRADA. This seems especially true given the growing importance of 3D printing for communication technologies in general, and in particular those used in military applications. It will be interesting to see if other WCF organizations will follow the example of NIWC Pacific in the near future.
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