By Debralee BestMay 16, 2019
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - A ribbon cutting ceremony for the Rock Island Arsenal - Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (RIA-JMTC), Center of Excellence for Advanced and Additive Manufacturing reaching initial operating capability was held here May 15.
"The fact that the Army chose Rock Island Arsenal as the Army's hub for collaboration with industry, academia and other Defense Department partners to implement additive manufacturing best practices is a testament to the expertise and professionalism of the Rock Island Arsenal workforce," said Maj. Gen. Daniel Mitchell, commanding general, U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, U.S. Army Garrison, Detroit Arsenal, Warren, Michigan.
Col. Ken Letcher, RIA-JMTC commander, hosted and officiated the ceremony in front of the newly renovated facility. Mitchell was the guest speaker for the event.
"Rock Island Arsenal has been producing readiness for our Army and our nation since 1862. Today, as we open the Advanced and Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence for the Army, we take our next step in that proud history," said Letcher. "The great workforce here at Rock Island Arsenal - Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center is ready to take that step and that step will help us operationalize additive manufacturing to fundamentally bend the curve of readiness for our Army."
As the Army drives toward improving readiness today and modernizing future equipment, RIA-JMTC is establishing the foundation to scale additive manufacturing throughout the Army.
"I have seen numerous developments in technology during my career that have enabled our Army to improve its readiness to fight and win our nation's wars. However, when I first joined the Army, I would never have dreamed that we would be able to print out parts," said Mitchell. "Advanced manufacturing technology holds the promise of greatly increased Army readiness rates, so that we will be ready to spring into action whenever and wherever our nation calls upon us."
Named the Center of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing in the spring of 2018, RIA-JMTC will serve as a central location to develop best practices and promote execution of the campaign plan throughout the Army materiel enterprise.
With $20 million in funding to stand up the Center of Excellence for equipment and renovations, RIA-JMTC bought a range of additive manufacturing technologies and enabling tools to establish capabilities in the majority of 3D printing types. For the Rock Island workforce, the designation of RIA-JMTC as a Center of Excellence is validation of the center's efforts to incorporate modern manufacturing technology.
"The nature of warfare has been changing at an ever-increasing rate and is becoming more and more complex every day. Yesterday's technology would never have gotten us to where we are today and neither will today's technology be able to take us to where we need to go in the coming years," said Mitchell. "We must continue to leverage new technologies and adapt our processes with an eye on the future."
The Army is operationalizing additive and advanced manufacturing across the materiel enterprise to improve equipment readiness and Warfighter capabilities at the tactical level.
"This center will help deliver readiness by ensuring Soldiers have the equipment and repair parts they need when and where they need them," said Mitchell. "Reducing production lead times from months, to weeks, or even days will go a long way toward providing our Warfighters with superior capabilities and increased readiness necessary to maintain overmatch."
The Center of Excellence is scheduled to reach full operating capability in 2021.