Navy Secretary Richard Spencer yesterday emphasized the service is willing to “pay for value” to incorporate more additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, of parts throughout the service.

While speaking at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment (CSBA), Spencer noted “printers are getting everywhere. The Marine Corps has really stepped up on that and the Navy is really stepping up also, on ship – being able to print.”

Gunnery Sgt. Doug McCue, a machinist with the 2nd Maintenance Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, demonstrates the capabilities of a large-build 3-D printer in the X-FAB Facility Aug. 1. The X-FAB, or Expeditionary Fabrication, Facility is a self-contained, transportable additive manufacturing lab comprised of a 20-by-20-foot shelter, 3-D printers, a scanner and computer-aided design software system that can be used to fabricate repair and replacement parts in the field. The Marine Corps is exploring this expeditionary capability to expedite heavy equipment repairs in deployed environments. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Kaitlin Kelly)

However, he admitted “one of the things that we’re struggling with, and it’s going to be a torque – it’s a natural torque – is the ability to purchase the data and/or incorporate in on the contracts the right to use the data for parts developed.”

Spencer emphasized the Navy’s position is that “I truly believe that we are prepared to pay for value. We do not expect to get a part for nothing.  If there is value, we will pay value.”

He dismissed the idea the Navy wants the data so it can continually print to fulfill its demand without compensation.

“I want to print to fulfill my demand but I will also reward innovation and value appropriately,” Spencer said.

In February, Capt. Matthew Friedell, lead official for the Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell in the Marine Corps, said the service has deployed 150 3D printing systems and was focused on securing data rights. He said most 3D printing they will use focuses on allowing Marines in the field to reproduce a small part that would otherwise be difficult to find or is missing form the supply chain (Defense Daily, Feb. 7).

Friedell said he envisioned a system where the service buys data credits from manufacturers to ensure the vendors are fairly compensated for the exact number of parts the Marine Corps prints.