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Public-Private Partnerships: A Key Enabler for American Manufacturing Innovation

Steve Betza, Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Development at Lockheed Martin

Guest blog post by Steve Betza, Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Development at Lockheed Martin.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 113,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.


As we celebrate this year’s Manufacturing Day, Lockheed Martin is hosting hundreds of students, community leaders and government officials at facilities across the country, with the goal of inspiring our next generation of manufacturing leaders. We envision an exciting future for U.S. manufacturing – a future built upon a strong foundation of public-private partnerships.

At Lockheed Martin, we are breaking new ground in additive manufacturing, advanced materials, digital manufacturing and next-generation electronics. We produced the first additively manufactured parts to fly in space onboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft – currently on its way to Jupiter. We are launching new STEM and workforce development initiatives, conducting high-impact research, and publicly communicating the importance of manufacturing and job creation to the U.S. economy.

While these are promising steps, it’s important that government, industry and academia come together early and often to accelerate manufacturing innovation. As a nation, we need to successfully transition new technologies from the laboratory to production, and then bring them to the marketplace – both domestic and global. We believe that the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) has the potential to transform U.S. manufacturing on a grand scale. For this reason, we are active or committed Tier 1 members at all four Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs) launched to date.

The IMIs are a best practice in public-private partnerships and are already accelerating the adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies. The public research projects at America Makes in Youngstown, Ohio, are transforming additive manufacturing and enabling new, globally competitive products. At this IMI, we are partnered to improve the quality of 3-D printed titanium, enhance inspection and repair techniques, and create new processes to print multiple material types, including embedded electronics.

Similarly, the projects now being proposed at the Digital Lab for Manufacturing in Chicago, the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Detroit, and at PowerAmerica in Raleigh, North Carolina, will accelerate the application of IT in manufacturing and successfully bring a new generation of lightweight metals and power electronics to the marketplace.

When the NNMI is fully established, we will witness the successful startup of new companies, grow the capabilities of small-to-medium sized businesses and drive even higher levels of innovation across global enterprises like Lockheed Martin. With the successful adoption of each new technology, we are reducing costs to our customers, strengthening our global competitiveness and engineering a better tomorrow. Welcome to the future – a future worth striving for!

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