Obama talks 3-D printing, calls on Congress to create network of innovation ‘hubs’

President Barack Obama mentioned the emerging field of 3-D printing in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, calling on Congress to “guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is made in America.”

3-D printing allows manufacturers and inventors to rapidly prototype concepts and ideas, and the technology is becoming more affordable for engineers. Even Staples is offering customers the capability to print their 3-D printer projects in-store.

Obama alluded in his speech to the National Additive Manufacturing Innovative Institute (NAMII) in Youngstown, Ohio, which was founded in August 2012.

National Journal reported Monday that NAMII was founded with “an initial investment of $30 million from five federal agencies,” including the Defense Department.

The Plain Dealer wrote that in addition to the agencies — which included NASA, NIST, and the National Science Foundation — a “consortium of other manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges and nonprofit organizations has promised an additional $40 million.”

“A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3-D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything,” said Obama on Tuesday evening.

“There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns,” he said.

Obama had first announced his plan in March 2012. The Youngstown location was the first of 15 of these types of labs.

“So tonight, I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs,” said Obama.

The technology attracted the watchful eye of Congress in January, after a video featuring a gun enthusiast firing a 3-D printed semi-automatic rifle with a high-capacity magazine was uploaded to YouTube.

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