“Okay, people, let’s go ahead and get started, we’ve got limited time to work with here. My name’s Ken Rymer, I’m with Missile Sys out of Arizona. One thing that I’ll address at the outset, I’m not a logistician such as yourselves. My background is mainly as a materials science engineer, some avionics, but recently I’ve made the transition to working full-time with the additive manufacturing team at the design site in Tucson. What I’ve been asked to do today is provide a general overview of the state of 3D printing tech as it relates to Raytheon’s interests. Which brings me to my great big confession, for those amongst you who are visually impaired, that I’m a bit of a geezer. But they keep my old ass around for a few reasons. First is, I’m competitive as a son of a bitch. The second happens to be that I’m a major proponent of a perspectivist approach toward new tech within the company, which is mainly the reason why I’m the one giving this talk today as opposed to someone who’s, let’s just say, less fossilized. I’m here to do no less than reorient your whole way of thinking as it relates to your profession. The question is, why does Raytheon consider that necessary? Well, the short answer is that the advances we’re seeing with additive manufacturing are going to render almost everything you’ve learned about supply chain science up to this point obsolete in roughly ten years, which for this group here means five. I’m not exaggerating when I say that 3D printing is about to make the rise of short-cycle manufacturing look quaint. The world’s going topsy-turvy on us, folks, and my advice to you is this: stay alert, stay up-to-date, and start thinking creatively about how you’re going to market your skills to employers in the future. That last thing especially will prove crucial once most firms start thinning out their logistics rosters. But I digress. The point I’m here to make to you all today is that the world is now locked into a new tech race that will decide no less than who shall attain military supremacy during this century. I assume you all know who Taylor Lawrence is?—the president of Missile Systems Division. Not too long ago he caused a bit of a sensation with the media when he went on record with the New York Times saying he, quote, ‘believed’ 3D printers would likely be used to manufacture missiles and other arms on the front lines of battlefields. This pretty much qualifies as the understatement of all time. Not only will these systems be used, they’re the next evolution in physical warfare. At least if I’ve got anything to say about it. 3D printers will soon nearly eliminate the need for transoceanic supply lines, as well as the military supply chain as we’ve known it since civilizational conflict began. You can count on the world to become awash with weapons in short order, maybe damn near to the point of drowning. We’re staring down the barrel of a major crisis of access, with the very real possibility of nearly every single state actor, within a hypercondensed timeframe, acquiring nuclear destructive capability if global market regulators and nonproliferation export controllers nod off at the wheel, or if their supervisory mandate isn’t hugely expanded. But even with greater regulation, given our current level of sophistication in the fields of cybersecurity and policing global trade flows, there will be no way, once 3D printing becomes the worldwide standard of fabrication, for anyone to keep an ironclad lid on design files. Long gone will be the days when anyone will have the need to smuggle multi-axis CNC lathes or gas centrifuge components across borders. All these major hurdles to achieving nuclearization are currently locatable, trackable. Now they’ll be importing equipment with a mouse click. As with all new weapons—and that’s precisely what this is, folks, is a weapon—we’re in the process of opening a Pandora’s box, and with every subsequent box the stakes get higher. Obviously it’s already not impossible for a government to circumvent nonproliferation controls. For instance, it’s not uncommon to see certain regulated machines, freeze dryers, pressure transducers, etcetera, appearing on Alibaba or other less-reputable ecommerce platforms, and there’s always been the risk that these items slip through the cracks. But when you truly stop and consider it’ll soon be as easy as simply hacking a computer and pilfering a print file to get this kind of stuff, that’s when your average person with a couple brain cells starts feeling the squeeze. Worse is that the Chinese have already got a substantial jump on us in AI. If we’re not able to match them software for software, we’ll find ourselves in a situation where they have pretty much carte blanche with any and all of our networks or electronic systems. This is all to impress upon you the seriousness of the moment we’re living through right now. Every single piece of the puzzle has got to come together all at the correct time if our defenses are to remain secure, meaning we’ve all got to understand what’s at stake, and we all have to understand the goals that need to be achieved. Which is where supply chain steps into the ring. Because although stronger nonproliferation controls can definitely stymie tech theft, they’re far from being an impregnable shield against it. I mean, who amongst us here actually trust the government to do their job? My point exactly. Not that there isn’t some reason to be optimistic on that front now that we’ve got a new administration, but no matter how attentive any governing regime may be to our particular needs, it’s important to remember that the likelihood of regulating bodies being able to fully protect major defense firms from being responsible for debacles isn’t promising. Imagine it was uncovered by the media that North Korea or Iran was able to divert large quantities of maraging steel or 7075 aluminum from Raytheon’s supply chain. What do you think Washington’s PR stance is going to be in that situation? Would they be inclined to claim culpability themselves in order to protect Raytheon’s interests as a company? No, of course not. They’re going to shift blame, in which case we get stuck with the bill at the end of the night. But this is where I see eminent potential for the expansion of supply chain’s mandate. For the moment, at least, we’ve been inclined to envision an entirely internal and integrated corporate regulation mechanism. Basically a para-institution that’s privatized, efficient, and a benefit for corporate leverage. This is something we’ve been putting in BGR’s ear since November, because already it looks like the Midnight Rules Relief Act stands to rocket through the Senate, probably as soon as this upcoming week, and so while the ball’s in our court we need to be thinking about long-term goals and how we intend to capitalize on the moment…” 

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