The Department of Defense has a strong need for customization of parts in remote locations that are low volume and can be produced in a short period. Traditional manufacturing only makes sense for high volume orders. This results in high transportation costs, long lead times, and excess inventory and waste.
In 2011, the total obligation authority was $650 billion, where 44% was for operations and maintenance. To put this into perspective, they support 327,000 tactical vehicles, 40,300 combat vehicles, 13,900 aircraft, 896 strategic missiles, 275 ships, communications and electronic equipment, support equipment, etc.
The military often uses its equipment for decades, which means a lot of the parts are obsolete. With additive manufacturing, the Department of Defense can benefit from on-demand manufacturing in localized combat zones. This will improve lead times, functionality, create low volumes, and allow for customization.