The Office of the Secretary of Defense Manufacturing Technology Program (OSD ManTech) has announced the winners of the first-of-its-kind "Point of Need Challenge Pitch Event" for solutions to support forward-deployed forces in austere environments.
Held March 8-9 at the ARM Institute in Pittsburgh, Pa., the event showcased technologies generated by member companies of the Department of Defense Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (MIIs). DoD launched nine MIIs between 2012 and 2021, each focused on a particular critical technology, to help revitalize U.S. domestic manufacturing capability.
The challenge event featured 11 pitch presentations that had been selected from 63 concept papers submitted by the MIIs and reviewed by 72 DoD reviewers. The pitches, presented over a day and a half, were reviewed by a panel of 13 judges from the Military Services, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), Defense Innovation Unit, OSD ManTech, and Joint Staff.
The panel recommended six projects from five MIIs for approval by the director of ManTech. The projects cover three challenges: the Warfighter Medical, Health, and Nutrition Challenge; the Staying in the Fight Challenge; and the Cyber Challenge. OSD ManTech will invest nearly $2.5 million, while industry partners will contribute nearly $700,000 in cost share.
The event started with a half-day forum of DoD perspectives from keynote speakers Brig. Gen. David Trybula, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM); Dr. Karl Dahlhauser from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and Capt. Tony Bannister from the Joint Staff J-4 Logistics directorate. Expert presentations followed from Col. Marchant Callis of the Army Sustainment Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate, Maj. Matt Audette from U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command, Lt. Col. Elisa Peters from DLA, and Mr. Shaun Verrinder from the Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division.
The winners of the challenge are:
Portable Manufacturing Station for a Self-Administrable Injectable Applicator
- MII: BioFab USA; Manchester, N.H.
- Prime: DEKA Integrated Solutions; Manchester, N.H.
DEKA has developed a novel hollow-microneedle-based intradermal delivery applicator for self-administering therapeutic agents. Through the DoD grant, DEKA will further the development of a portable, ruggedized manufacturing station that can fill the required therapeutic agent at a forward operating base and then send the applicator forward to Warfighters to administer vaccines and other needed therapeutic agents. This portable manufacturing station enables the low-cost, quick, and effective administration of needed therapeutic agents for viruses, allergens, and emerging threats without the need for skilled medical personnel in the field. A less-ruggedized version of this same manufacturing station can be used in a just-in-time manufactured hub-and-spoke distribution system to serve civilian needs across the United States.
Austere nField Repair
- MII: NextFlex; San Jose, Calif.
- Prime: nScrypt; Orando, Fla.
Utilizing the nRugged™ tool, an integrated and ruggedized "factory in a box," the project employs additive electronics and mechanical part manufacturing to replace and repair damaged hardware at austere points of need. nScrypt will demonstrate four stages of functionality: fabricating a replacement electronic printed circuit board, repairing a damaged printed circuit board, 3D printing a replacement mechanical part, and manufacturing a customized biomedical brace.
Intrepid Expeditionary 3D Printer
- MII: America Makes; Youngstown, Ohio
- Prime: Craitor; San Diego, Calif.
The Intrepid Expeditionary 3D Printer can print critical parts in the field. This project, led by Craitor, will utilize current capabilities as the foundation to de-risk manufacturing at the point of need through established standards and procedures and to form a framework for future manufacturing ecosystems. The project will occur over five phases with the objective of improving the confidence of operators, reducing the risk for prime manufacturers, and ultimately increasing the investment in the digital ecosystem by existing original equipment manufacturers.
Securing the Digital Backbone with Corsha's Zero-Trust Platform for Machines
- MII: ARM; Pittsburgh, Pa.
- Prime: Corsha; Vienna, Va.
The Corsha platform manages cybersecurity challenges by addressing security limitations and providing zero-trust network access, even to legacy manufacturing equipment, thereby mitigating the risk of a security breach by implementing an additional, out-of-band layer of access control.
Demonstration of Use of Sciperio Austere Bioreactor to Produce Blood in a Forward Environment from CONUS Cryopreserved Starting Material
- MII: BioFabUSA; Manchester, N.H.
- Prime: Safi Biotherapeutics; Cambridge, Mass.
The ability to "manufacture" blood on demand and near the point of conflict eliminates both source and logistics concerns. This program leverages the current On-Demand Blood Program awarded to Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and demonstrates the ability to deliver cryopreserved blood precursor cells that transport in a fraction of the volume of blood bags (think 1,000 units in an ammo box), and expansion and manufacture of blood on-site in an austere-capable bioreactor.
Expeditionary Manufacturing Unit for Battlefield Repair and Readiness
- MII: LIFT; Detroit, Mich.
- Prime: SPEE3D; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and Wilmington, Del.
SPEE3D's 3D Metal Printing Technology is an industry proven, military tested, expeditionary, all-in-one solution. The system uses existing cold spray technology to create complex 3D parts quickly. SPEE3D's technology has been demonstrated in operations in hot and hot-humid environments, including work with the United Kingdom and Australian militaries, the U.S. Navy Repair Technology Exercise 2022, and the U.S. Army's Project Convergence 2022. The project goal is to successfully 3D-print metal parts in a sub-freezing environment that are equivalent in quality to the same parts printed, on the same technology, in a lab environment.
Follow-on demonstrations of the projects are planned for November 2023 in a simulated cold weather environment, supported by Army DEVCOM.
The DoD ManTech Program comprises investment programs operated out of the U.S. Military Services, DLA, Missile Defense Agency, and OSD. The OSD ManTech office is responsible for administering the DoD ManTech Program and manages two investment portfolios: the Manufacturing Science and Technology Program, and the DoD MIIs. The charter of these public-private partnerships is to advance research and development to promote innovation while modernizing U.S. military capabilities; grow manufacturing ecosystems to enhance the Nation's competitiveness; and further education and workforce development for the jobs of the future.
The Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD(R&E) is the Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Defense. The USD(R&E) champions research, science, technology, engineering, and innovation to maintain the United States military's technological advantage. Learn more at www.cto.mil, follow us on Twitter @DoDCTO, or visit us on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/ousdre.