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The concept of obsolescence in the industrial sector has many facets that can be summarised in the general definition provided by the International Institute for Obsolescence Management (IIOM): obsolescence is the unavailability of parts, or services, that were previously available (IIOM 2015). With a view to raising awareness on the issue of obsolescence management in the defence sector and on the role that additive manufacturing (AM) plays today and could play tomorrow, this RAND Perspective Paper includes four contributions from experts in different sectors, bringing different analytical approaches to and perspectives on the issue. The first paper, from armasuisse, provides an overview of the Swiss military context and the opportunities and challenges that AM could represent. The second paper, from RAND Europe, illustrates the concept of obsolescence management in the defence sector and introduces the potential game changer role that AM could play in this field. The third paper, by the US Army, provides an insight into current use and future developments of AM from a more practical perspective. Finally, the last paper, from Cranfield University, elaborates on the costs of obsolescence and on the role that AM could have in obsolescence management in the future.

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This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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