With a selection of over 70 desktop 3D printers and more than 2,000 materials, it’s no wonder that California company MatterHackers is the biggest USA-based retailer of desktop systems and materials. The company’s goal is to make 3D printing more accessible for everyone, from individuals and small businesses to corporations and the military, and MatterHackers has some good news to share for this last one: it’s received the largest ever military contract awarded for desktop 3D printers.
The competitive Tier 1 five-year IDIQ contract—up to $5 million—for additive manufacturing systems (AMS) was awarded to MatterHackers by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in order to deliver deployable 3D printers, specifically the Ultimaker S5 system, to US Marine and Navy bases at home and abroad, and includes a maintenance strategy, industrial-grade filament, supplemental IT and support, and training. This is a major show of support from the Navy for the adoption of AM, of which it’s long been an advocate.
“MatterHackers is proud to be a part of the innovation efforts of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Tier 1 portion of this additive manufacturing initiative reflects a trend we see in the commercial space – with desktop 3D printers enabling broader, more cost-effective, adoption of additive rather than traditional, high-cost 3D printing systems. This trend is built on confidence, born from experience, that desktop 3D printers can reliably deliver performance-level results,” Kevin Pope, the COO of MatterHackers, told 3DPrint.com. “MatterHackers’ formula for successful deployments has been to package innovative hardware with training and the right materials and we’re seeing this lead to scaling adoption, again and again.”
Up to 75 Tier 1 printers can be deployed through 2025, and the first resulting Delivery Order, which was awarded at the same time as the contract, will be delivered by the end of this year, which is fast approaching. This contract will allow US Warfighters to 3D print polymer parts when and where they need them—Fleet Readiness Centers, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons, and associated Expeditionary Units, in this case.
“MatterHackers’ commitment to NAVAIR is not to just deliver 3D printers to the field and Warfighters, but to provide continued training and personalized support to ensure that the systems are being used to their full capacity for critical applications. Especially with the variety of robust, engineering-grade materials available for the Ultimaker S5, the impact that these systems will have on the capabilities of our Warfighters to do their work around the world will be unprecedented,” Mara Hitner, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for MatterHackers, said in a press release.
Because of its many industry vendor relationships, GSA contract status, ability to organize difficult logistics, and prior work with all the US military branches—like a contract award to deliver desktop 3D printers and training to Camp Pendleton’s I MEF Additive Manufacturing Training Center—it makes sense that MatterHackers was awarded this contract. Additionally, since 2015, the company has been one of the biggest resellers of Ultimaker systems, which makes it “uniquely prepared for and capable of delivering such a complex order” using its Pennsylvania and California shipping and logistics warehouses.
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Finally, MatterHackers was the right choice for this NAVAIR contract because of its relationship with immersive training and interactive learning company Building Momentum, which will be facilitating the AMS training for the NAVAIR team. Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, Building Momentum is a Veteran-Owned Small Business, and offers training programs to help people, from corporate executives to active duty service members, use technology to solve problems.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to train NAVAIR’s team on these 3D printers, as we have seen firsthand what a huge impact they can have on affecting real change within the military, as well as corporations. Our Innovation Bootcamp training program has seen widespread success over the years, and 3D printing is a critical part of that program,” said Building Momentum’s COO Thomas Sullivan. “We look forward to creating a relationship with NAVAIR and continuing our commitment to MatterHackers to the benefit of all parties.”
As part of the IDIQ contract, Building Momentum will offer hands-on training for each military base that receives a Tier 1 AMS, and for the rest of the five-year period, will continue to give follow-up training, both virtually and in-person, for printing with advanced materials and problem solving. The Ultimaker S5 was chosen for this contract due to its large build volume, powerful software, IT-secure design options, and portfolio of compatible materials that have NFC-chips for easier use. If you’re interested in learning more about the S5, you can make an appointment with MatterHackers to see a live demonstration at its showroom.