DARPA + Tech Shop = iFAB: flexible & digital manufacturing geared toward the needs of modern mobile infantry
“The Instant Foundry Adaptive through Bits (iFAB) program looks to lay the groundwork for the development of a foundry-style manufacturing capability—taking as input a verified system design specified in an appropriate metalanguage—capable of rapid reconfiguration to accommodate a wide range of design variability and specifically targeted at the fabrication of military ground vehicles. The principal objective of iFAB—coupled with META—is to enable substantial compression of the time required to go from idea to product through a shift in the product value chain for defense systems from “little m” manufacturing (i.e., fabrication) to the other elements of “big M” Manufacturing (i.e., design, customization, after-market support, etc.). The iFAB vision is to move away from wrapping a capital-intensive manufacturing facility around a single defense product, and toward the creation of a flexible, programmable, potentially distributed production capability able to accommodate a wide range of systems and system variants with extremely rapid reconfiguration timescales. The specific goals of the iFAB program are to rapidly design and configure manufacturing capabilities to support the fabrication of a wide array of infantry fighting vehicle models and variants.”
“text” – http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/TTO/Programs/AVM/AVM_Manufacturing_Foundary_(iFAB).aspx
“To innovate we must make, and to protect we must produce. This is a theme that ties together DARPA’s numerous advanced manufacturing efforts. One such effort, part of the Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) portfolio, is called Instant Foundry Adaptive through Bits (iFAB). iFAB seeks to create a foundry to rapidly design and reconfigure manufacturing capabilities to support the fabrication of a wide array of military vehicles.
Now, thanks to a new collaboration between DARPA, the Department of Veterans Affairs and TechShop, a test-bed will exist to examine new methods and various approaches to creating an effective iFAB. At the same time, the facilities provide a space for innovators to access industrial tools, training and equipment needed to pursue their own ‘make’ ideas without the need for affiliation with a large manufacturer.
With locations across the United States, TechShop is a membership-based, do-it-yourself workshop and fabrication studio that supports a growing community of makers and innovators. The company also offers classes and personal instruction for individuals in both the private and public sectors as they work to solve a variety of problems. The partnership will help TechShop open new facilities in both Pittsburgh and the Washington, D.C., area later this year.
“Supporting initiatives that expand the number and diversity of talent contributing to the Nation’s defense is critical to DARPA’s efforts in advanced manufacturing,” explained DARPA Acting Director, Kaigham J. Gabriel. “The resources made available through this effort enables more people to ‘make,’—the DNA of creativity and innovation.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs, through its Center for Innovation, will make TechShop memberships available to veterans. “The VA Innovations team is excited to collaborate with TechShop and DARPA in providing cutting-edge training and equipment for veterans seeking to become more competitive in the job market or aiming to become successful entrepreneurs,” said Jonah Czerwinski, director of the VA’s Center for Innovation. “This effort supports the VA interest in finding new ways of providing veterans with resources that help them serve an important role in America’s economy.”
Army Lt. Col. Nathan Wiedenman, DARPA program manager, “This new collaboration with TechShop will allow us to have a dedicated test bed for digital manufacturing technologies, examine new ideas and experiment with new techniques in support of rapidly programmable manufacturing that can be integrated into the larger iFAB foundry.”
“text” – http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2012/05/24.aspx
image – http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/06/darpa-adaptive-vehicle-make.html