Astro America study highlights suitability of Guam for Additive Manufacturing hub

May 10, 2023

ASTRO America and the Guam Economic Development Authority have released a report establishing that Guam has the necessary foundation to establish a high-tech manufacturing sector on the island (Courtesy ASTRO America)
ASTRO America and the Guam Economic Development Authority have released a report establishing that Guam has the necessary foundation to establish a high-tech manufacturing sector on the island (Courtesy ASTRO America)

The Applied Science & Technology Research Organization of America (ASTRO America), based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and the Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA) have released a report establishing that Guam has the necessary foundation to establish a high-tech manufacturing sector on the island. By adopting industrial Additive Manufacturing, Guam could address both logistical challenges for the US Armed Forces and support its own economic goal of acting as a parts supplier to the United States and other areas of the Indo-Pacific.

“It is critical that we continue to identify and encourage new industries in our effort to diversify the local economy,” stated Guam Governor Lourdes A Leon Guerrero. “An Additive Manufacturing industry can serve as a new economic engine for the island and support US Department of Defense activities in the region. I look forward to continuing to work with ASTRO America to explore what we need in terms of public and private investment to make the industry viable and realise its full potential.”

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Several Guam-based entities contributed to ASTRO America’s preliminary analysis, which culminated in a workshop on the composition of industrial Additive Manufacturing capabilities and the on-island conditions that may be re-configured to sustain AM operations.

The report further proposed the development of three related facilities to build Additive Manufacturing capabilities on-island. These would be configured to leverage assistance and sponsorship from outside institutions, including external universities, US and allied governments, and industry.

The aforementioned facilities include:

  1. A Research and Test Center supporting prototyping capabilities as well as advanced quality inspection (e.g., a metallography lab) to validate part production for use by the US Department of Defense and other stakeholders
  2. A ‘Business Incubator’, which would provide a setting for existing contract additive manufacturers and start-ups to relocate assets in Guam. The facility could host both AM machines and post-processing equipment under a shared infrastructure arrangement potentially supported by the government
  3. An integrated approach to education and technical skills training to enable the long-term sustainability of this effort in Guam

“For an island largely reliant on imports as well as the growing US military presence in the region, Additive Manufacturing could be a game changer,” added Neal Orringer, president of ASTRO America. “When a part breaks down today, it can take several weeks if not months to requisition new parts – often at distances 10,000 miles away from where these parts are needed – creating significant supply chain issues. According to our findings, solutions may actually lie on the island of Guam itself, where, strategically, these capabilities need to be. With appropriate investments in science, technology, and engineering, we could see the island printing its own parts, eventually growing its own capabilities to repair and upgrade critical infrastructure needed to keep the region – and America – safe.”

Melanie Mendiola, CEO/Administrator of GEDA, concluded, “It is without question that Guam has the basic elements needed to support an Additive Manufacturing industry on the island. With the Governor’s vision and support for developing this new industry, Guam will be able to create new STEM-related jobs and breakthrough Additive Manufacturing capabilities on the island that will meet the manufacturing demand from both the defence and commercial sectors in the region.”

‘Baseline Additive Manufacturing Readiness’ is the first phase of a twelve-month assessment on the viability of establishing industrial Additive Manufacturing capabilities in Guam. ASTRO America is currently working with the Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans to complete Phase 2 of the feasibility study, which will focus on developing an implementation plan to establish an ecosystem tailored to distinct AM requirements as well as unique economic and geo-political conditions on Guam. It is expected to be completed in autumn 2023.

The full Phase 1 report is available here.

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