The Naval Aviation School for Additive Manufacturing (NASAM) is a six-week program that provides active-duty Navy and Marine Corps maintenance personnel with foundational skills in additive manufacturing. This NAVAIR program provides instruction for the deployed additive manufacturing technologies and prepares the end users to utilize and maximize those capabilities.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) hosts and instructs the NASAM program, which began with a pilot cohort of 12 students in February 2024.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, which can also be referred to as 3D printing, is a subset of manufacturing where an object is built “from the ground up” based on a 3D model. The more traditional approach, subtractive manufacturing is the inverse, where a block is whittled down into whatever shape or design is needed.

After starting as a niche technology primarily used for prototyping, additive manufacturing has emerged as a cost-effective, efficient option across industries. Advancements in materials science, software development and hardware engineering have allowed for expanding material options beyond plastics to include metals, ceramics and even biomaterials, propelling additive manufacturing into the mainstream.

“Additive manufacturing is now, and it’s where we need to be.”James Hubbard, Director of Training and Technology for Manufacturing Advancement, IALR

For the U.S. military, it’s a growing solution to expensive and potentially compromising distribution bottlenecks, allowing the military to address supply chain issues and, in many cases, allowing maintenance personnel to print critically needed parts on-demand, on-site.

Meeting the Navy’s Needs

This fast-paced pilot program is a six-week course that provides 240 hours of hands-on instruction using different polymer 3D printing technologies.

In those six weeks, NASAM prepares learners to work with the designated equipment. Students learn about equipment operation, reverse engineering and measurement fundamentals, computer-aided design (CAD), material evaluation, Naval additive manufacturing policies, procedures and more.

“Even in peacetime, there are a lot of situations where supplies and parts just aren’t available. There’s a genuine need to be able to reverse engineer or redesign parts to be able to return that ship or aircraft to flight capability status.”CAPT Alexander Peabody, Senior Fleet Liaison, NAVAIR Additive Manufacturing

The program specifically trains active-duty military on additive manufacturing using two tiers of AM technologies (tier 1 being desktop polymers and tier 2 being industrial polymers) deployed in support of Naval Aviation at its Fleet Readiness Centers and Marine Corps Aviation Logistics Squadrons.

The second cohort of the NASAM program poses for a group photo.

Built on a Successful Model

NAVAIR’s NASAM program is a direct offshoot of the Accelerated Training in Defense Manufacturing (ATDM) model: short, accelerated, fast-paced and personalized instruction.

With five different tracks, ATDM prepares adult learners for needed positions across the defense and submarine industrial bases – the system of supplier companies for the military.

“One-on-one time with the equipment and one-on-one time with the instructors make training in Danville successful and unique. Those are two of the things that put us on the map.” – James Hubbard, director of technology and training, IALR Manufacturing Advancement