Air Force’s Cloud One Launches Its First 3D Printing and Advanced Manufacturing App


Last week, the U.S. Air Force Rapid Sustainment Office (RSO) Advanced Manufacturing Program Office (AMPO) officially started utilizing the Part Assessment and Cost Tool (PACT), the first advanced manufacturing application accessible on Air Force Cloud One. Introduced in 2017 and operated by Air Force as a comprehensive solution for cloud computing services, Cloud One can be used by anyone in the Department of Defense (DoD).

In similarity to the digital stock platforms provided by several additive manufacturing (AM) and software as a service (SaaS) companies, PACT assesses uploaded part files to determine whether they’re suitable to be produced using advanced manufacturing techniques. The AMPO’s advanced manufacturing abilities primarily involve all sorts of AM, particularly powder bed fusion (PBF), as well as cold spray and directed energy deposition (DED).

More specifically, PACT examines every part candidate in terms of “supply chain impact”, compatibility with the AMPO’s array of advanced manufacturing techniques, and return on investment (ROI).

In a February 2023 press release about Cloud One, Todd Wieser, chief technology officer for US Air Force Special Operations Command, stated, “Using Cloud One allows our personnel and teams to collaborate securely both at the tactical edge and at the strategic level; both in-garrison and deployed. Cloud One’s ability to run on many different platforms and its set of features enable us to mitigate security risks and operate effectively.” In a press release about PACT’s activation on Cloud One, Daniel Dismuke, RSO AMPO Digital Enabler Program Manager, noted, “It’s the first in a series of applications to be launched on Cloud One. It sets a foundation to rapidly roll out future [advanced manufacturing] capabilities to Cloud One.”

Cloud-enabled distributed manufacturing, as an ideal application of AM, has been a vision for some time, yet the current status of the technology has yet to reach its full potential. However, a sign of change is evident as the branch of the US military with a history of supporting AM has recently launched its first AM application.

This is only one instance of many that suggest a shift is approaching. A report titled “Additive Manufacturing for Military and Defense“, published by Additive Manufacturing Research, predicts that the Department of Defense (DoD) will invest $300 million in 3D printers by 2023. Observing this expenditure in relation to supply chain digitalization software could provide valuable insight into the DoD’s advancement in AM.

In line with this, a notable government contract in this area is the $4.6 billion contract awarded to Amentum by the Air Force in February 2023. The aim of this contract is to digitize the US military’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

Despite this contract extending beyond AM, firms within the AM industry should monitor this massive investment towards enhancing the DoD’s ability to digitalize its supply chains. With the introduction of more applications like PACT, there is an increased likelihood of AM becoming integral to such digitalization endeavors rather than just an additional tool.

Image courtesy of US Air Force

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