DLA expands DOD additive manufacturing tool in fight against COVID-19

By Michael Molinaro, DLA Information Operations

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A Defense Logistics Agency tool that consolidates the Defense Department’s technical data packages for advance manufacturing could be a new weapon in the battle against COVID-19.

The military services are already using the Joint Additive Manufacturing Model Exchange to access a dozen models for critical items like face shields and surgical masks. 

Still in development by DLA, the National Institutes of Health and the military services, JAMMEX lets users download and print models from multiple sources through a single system, said Tony Delgado, additive manufacturing program manager for DLA Information Operations’ Research and Development Division.

“The value proposition is that JAMMEX can be that authoritative source for DOD AM stakeholders, because behind the scenes DLA is making sure that models that go on JAMMEX are approved models, regardless of origin,” he added. 

Work on the additive manufacturing portal began two years after the Office of the Secretary of Defense directed DLA to facilitate the exchange of data between the services. DLA information technology experts and logisticians met with industry and academia representatives in 2018 to understand the technological landscape and gain insights that were critical to the design of the system.  

DLA’s technology accelerator team then worked with DLA functional experts and military users to turn best practices into a prototype, now in development by America Makes, a public-private partnership with member organizations from industry, academia, government, non-government agencies, and workforce and economic development resources. 

Despite ongoing development, the services have used JAMMEX to print spare parts like anti-reflection devices, door handles, drone parts and brackets that would have otherwise cost more and taken longer to procure.  

JAMMEX has the potential to reduce readiness risks, improve responsiveness and decrease costs by providing alternate sources for hard-to-procure and obsolete parts, said Catrina Murphy, DLA additive manufacturing program manager.

“Accelerating the adoption of the military services to load their approved models to JAMMEX, as well as investigating the feasibility of loading vendor-offered proprietary designs to JAMMEX for the military services' organic manufacturing base, are the next steps in propelling JAMMEX to be the DOD AM model authoritative source,” she added.