2022-11-14 5 min read


Notes, 2022-11-14.

I think America’s most toxic trait is that it often looks forward without recognizing and processing the mistakes of the past. It’s something I relate to: In my efforts to always outdo myself, I’m adept at ignoring the red flags in my rear-view mirror; to stay on top of my game, oftentimes forward seems like the only viable option.

One thing that the Biden administration seems to want to move forward on is manufacturing policy. Among other initiatives, they’re approaching it through their AM Forward program, which they claim will “[improve] the competitiveness of America’s small-and-medium-sized manufacturers, creating and sustaining high-paying manufacturing jobs, and improving supply chain resilience through adoption of additive manufacturing.” At the heart of AM Forward is a partnership between large US manufacturers (companies like GE Aviation, Honeywell, and Northrop Grumman) and the US government (through the DoD, Department of Labor, NIST, and other agencies). The large manufacturers pledge to purchase 3D printed parts from smaller businesses, and the government in turn supports those smaller businesses with small loans, technical assistance, and skills training.

I am apprehensive about how AM Forward might play out. I worry that the feds won’t follow through on the support they’re promising these small businesses, and in the end they won’t be much better off than when they started. Many of the aerospace manufacturers involved with AM Forward have spent years vertically integrating their supply chains, and I’m skeptical that this program will convince them to change what appears to be a broader trend toward consolidation.

I’m still hopeful though. With government and industry support working in tandem, the next hype cycle for 3D printing could be beneficial for everyone – as new companies create new tech, create new jobs, and so on. So, with one eye on the road and the other checking our rearview, I can only hope that forward doesn’t lead us in a circle.

-SJ Jones

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Planning & Strategy.

  • Hyperganic, a company that makes software to optimize the topology of parts, gained infamy at 3D printing trade shows this year. Their software uses algorithms to rapidly cycle through design iterations that mimic the complex, organic shapes found in nature. Check out their bell nozzle engine design – not only does it look like something out of a sci-fi movie, but they claim it’s 15-20% more efficient than the traditional form factor.
  • Nikon, a heritage company famous for producing cameras, semiconductors, and displays, is making large moves into the 3D printing space. Nikon’s Next Generation project division has been busy the last two years making strategic investments into additive companies like Optisys, and Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies and acquiring SLM solutions.

Making & Manufacturing.

  • A compelling piece that argues that manufacturing – as a career path – is in desperate need of a facelift to avoid the worst of “The Great Resignation.” It’s still associated with physically taxing, repetitive work even as digitization becomes the industry standard. While many technologies are rolling out, I’m most excited about exoskeletons that help those on the floor carry heavy loads.
  • SpaceX recently hit a huge milestone: the ability to manufacture one Raptor engine every single day. The Super Heavy Booster needs thirty-three of these engines to power the first leg of its journey – meaning the production lines can go from zero to more than 7.7 million kg of thrust in a little over a month!

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

The US Air Force awarded Optomec a $1.5 M contract to develop an additive repair process for titanium compressor rotors which is expected to bring repair costs down by 80%. Optomec uses directed energy deposition (DED), “an additive manufacturing process in which focused thermal energy is used to fuse materials by melting as they are being deposited.” It’s fascinating to watch the DED repair process – metal powder is sprayed onto the surface of a broken part, then melted with a laser beam.

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.


  • Here’s a good refresher on the difference between “i.e.” (that is) and “e.g.” (for example).
  • In sci-fi movies, space is depicted as this dark, cold, and lonely void with out of body zero gravity experiences – but the risks and the danger are worth the reward of seeing the beauty that lies just beyond. I felt a similar stirring as I read the Unwritten Laws of Physics for Black Women where the author describes how difficult it is for black women to be accepted in predominantly white male graduate programs around the country. Facing microaggressions at every turn, the women in these programs were able to find & support one another across the deep voids of time and space – a truly inspiring story.
  • A group of sex workers has created OnlyBans: a game that mimics OnlyFans to teach about the strict limitations for sex workers on content-hosting platforms.

Advance to Go (Collect 200 Raptor Engines).

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