Seeker Spotlight: America Makes

Posted by Sean Carmichael on Feb 16, 2016 2:32:10 PM

 John Wilczynski, Deputy Director of Technology Development at America Makes

America Makes is the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. As the national accelerator for additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing (3DP), America Makes is the nation’s leading and collaborative partner in AM and 3DP technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation. The Institute recently announced its exciting new Challenge, looking for organizations able to produce smart structures – parts with integrated devices, such as sensors – through additive manufacturing technology. As an award, the Institute is offering Silver-level Membership to America Makes for a year, worth $15,000. We recently spoke with John Wilczynski, Deputy Director of Technology Development at America Makes to find out more about the Challenge and the Institute’s motivations for running it.

Hello John – thank you for joining us today. To start could you give us a bit of background information on America Makes, its aims and mission, and how this Challenge complements it?

America Makes was established in 2012 as a public-private partnership with member organizations from industry, academia, government, non-government agencies, and workforce and economic development resources. The strength of the Institute starts with our members. Together with our members, we are working to innovate and accelerate 3DP to increase our nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness. We feel this Smart Structures Challenge has the potential to impact two of our important initiatives:

  • Facilitating the development, evaluation, and deployment of efficient and flexible additive manufacturing technologies.
  • Linking and integrating companies with existing public, private, or not-for-profit industrial and economic development resources, and business incubators, with an emphasis on assisting small- and medium-sized enterprises and early-stage companies (start-ups).

What do you think is the importance of smart structures production for the advancement of additive technology?

Additive manufacturing is a hot topic right now; with applications ranging from aerospace to biomedical, and anything in between. A topic of increasing interest is the ability to include specific functionalities into a manufactured part. The term “functionalities” could be anything, from having a chip invaded on the surface, maybe an antenna, or having the structure react a certain way based on a given external signal. Parts that have these added utilities are what we are calling “Start Structures” and they have a wide range of applications inside and outside of additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing also allows for interesting new ways to produce these components.

Why are you looking towards InnoCentive and crowdsourcing to try and address this need?

At the Institute, we are doing great work, but we realize that there is a tremendous amount of research and development activity in the 3DP community that is not currently represented at America Makes. We are looking to crowdsourcing and InnoCentive to try and connect with some of this great work. Connecting with the “crowd” will dramatically improve our ability to accelerate 3DP research and the supply chain associated with smart structures and devices.


You’re offering a Silver-level Membership (or a $15k credit, if applicable) in America Makes as an award for the Challenge. What are some of the benefits of being part of an organization like America Makes?

As an America Makes member, you will experience a number of member benefits, including access to valuable intellectual property from our research portfolio, which is currently valued in excess of $85 million, as well as technical presentations, project calls, our Innovation Factory, and much more.


Thanks for your time John. Do you have any last advice or guidance for people looking to enter the Challenge?

Don’t constrain your thinking and good luck!

Topics: Innovation Insights, Seekers

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