On July 27, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 243 to 187 to pass the $280 billion Chip and Science Act to strengthen U.S. science and technology innovation, with significant funding potentially available to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other research institutions. The Chip and Science Act is a large bill that combines three bills: Part A is the CHIPS Act of 2022; Part B is the R&D, Competition and Innovation Act; and Part C is the Supreme Court Security Funding Act of 2022. ". Parts A and B are the most critical.
In this large bill, in addition to areas such as chips, semiconductors, and artificial intelligence, 3D printing is also included.
In Section 10358, "Manufacturing Research Amendments," updates the list of research programs in technology areas eligible for NSF advanced manufacturing funding, including additive manufacturing and continuous manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing, including new material design, complex materials, high-speed 3D printing technologies, and real-time process control.
The 3D Printing Competition Act
The American 3D Printing Coalition (AM Coalition) has submitted a (COMPETES) competition bill to the U.S. Congress that centers on keeping 3D printing in "manufacturing and reshaping the U.S. economy" and covers a wide range of areas, including semiconductor manufacturing, supporting the supply chain, and education and talent development programs related to the 3D printing industry. related education and talent development programs. The bill passed the Senate on Feb. 4.
AM Coalitio requests further support to improve two key areas: talent development for additive manufacturing, and funding for micro- and nano-scale 3D printing of electronics. The bill is sponsored by Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and the senior Republican member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Rep. Frank Lucas.
Advances in 3D Printed Electronics
which, in addition to talent development, also calls for funding and development of 3D printing technology in the electronics sector. While the industry is still in the early stages of commercialization, 3D printed electronics are attracting increasing R&D and investor interest. One of the innovators, NextFlex, an investment vehicle dedicated to advancing the production of flexible hybrid electronics in the U.S., has just allocated $17 million to projects focused on flexible electronics R&D, such as 3D printing parts related to radio frequency (RF) and hypersonic flight (which could be used in missile products in the military industry).
Elsewhere, Scrona AG, a company paid out of ETH Zurich, received a $9.6 million grant to develop high-resolution electronic 3D printing technology. And Nano Dimension and sensor specialist HENSOLDT have co-founded the $6 million JAMES joint venture focused on advancing 3D printing designers in electronics R&D.
Recent advances have also been made in robotic electronics 3D printing technology, irregular shape electronics, and 3D printed electronics in zero gravity conditions.
Enhanced Investment in 3D Printed Electronics
On April 1, the 3D Printing Coalition asked for their support in advancing the bill in a competing bill introduced to Congress, specifically in micro- and nano-scale electronic 3D printing.
The bill highlights the severe shortage of semiconductors that occurred during Covid-19 and requests that Congress "provide funding not only for traditional manufacturing technologies, but also for U.S. companies that can manufacture circuits and chips." Specifically, the AM Coalition has asked Congress to set aside at least 5 percent of the funding in the competition bill for innovative manufacturing technologies, including 3D printing, for domestic semiconductor production.
The coalition cautioned, "While we support investment in the semiconductor industry in these bills, it is important not to put all of our 'eggs' in one basket of traditional manufacturing. Helping to expand these small investments in 3D printing technology can facilitate the growth of a whole new industry in the United States." It also pointed out that other countries are actively investing in 3D printing technology for electronics development, and if the U.S. does not follow suit now, there may be a lag in the future.
Strengthening 3D printing talent development
The AM Coalition also asked Congress to support further 3D printing talent development programs to make additive manufacturing more widely available in the U.S. across all sectors. The U.S. currently lags "significantly" behind talent development in Asia and Europe, and urges educational organizations to actively invest in this, saying it is "critically important.
The coalition is calling for more funding for universities, community colleges and nonprofit training organizations to get training in industrial-scale 3D printers and related post-processing, as well as more 3D printing-related programs nationwide.
The AM Coalition's "passage of this bill will not only facilitate the expansion of science and technology and stem programs, but will also facilitate the development of key areas to reshape the U.S. economy."
Biden Administration Launches AM Forward Program to Support Full Adoption of 3D Printing Technology by U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Businesses.