Over the last year, reports from Deloitte & Singularity University, the World Economic Forum, TMS, and others have consistently pointed to in digital technologies including automation & robotics, digital design, IoT, and additive manufacturing among others as the foundation of future manufacturing processes. Based on these reports, DoD technology priorities, as well as interviews and workshops they recently concluded, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Manufacturing & Industrial Technology Division has developed and implemented an investment strategy focused on enabling future Air Force capabilities through digital engineering and manufacturing. The strategy aims to accelerate the availability of high-value technology to the Air Force through targeted investments in the areas of future factory, digital design/engineering, and additive manufacturing. This presentation will give an overview of the AFRL Manufacturing Technology investment strategy, including a description of technology verticals such as low-cost/attritable aircraft and space system as well as communication/sensor systems. The presentation will highlight pervasive manufacturing gaps in these areas and describe a few ongoing programs that are working to address them.
- Identify the technology areas expected to have the most significant impact for the Air Force over the next 5-7 years
- Determine manufacturing technology gaps that are most critical to Air Force applications
- Understand AF manufacturing investment plans for the next 5-7 years
Why Is It Important?
Numerous studies have been released over the last year that emphasize the role of digital technology (e.g, additive manufacturing, AI/machine learning, automation/robotics, etc.) in the future of manufacturing. The Department of Defense, through the National Defense Strategy and other reports, has also indicated near-term technology priorities to deliver future capabilities. The presentation details the Air Force Manufacturing Technology program’s investment strategy, which includes an analysis of how these digital manufacturing processes will accelerate the development and delivery of critical technology.