Defense

July 3, 2014

Army researches the future of 3-D printing

Tags:
David McNally
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

The July/August 2014 issue of Army Technology Magazine focuses on the future of 3-D printing. Download the current issue by following the link below in Related Files.

One day, soldiers will get critical repair parts at the point of need through innovative, reliable 3-D printing systems. This vision of the future will lift the logistics burden and lighten the load to provide more capabilities at less cost, according to Army researchers.

“Imagine the possibilities of three-dimensional printed textiles, metals, integrated electronics, biogenetic materials and even food,” said Dale A. Ormond, director, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. “Army researchers are exploring the frontiers of an exciting technology.”

Additive 3-D printing is the process of making something from stock materials, such as metal or plastic powder, by adding material in successive layers. It’s also known as additive manufacturing, or AM. In contrast, traditional manufacturing processes often work in the opposite way, by subtracting material through cutting, grinding, milling and other methods.

“One of our biggest challenges in the Army is that there is a huge logistics burden,” said Dr. Thomas Russell, director of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. In the featured interview for the July/August issue of Army Technology Magazine, Russell describes the research vision for 3-D printing.

“I think the number one thing that the soldier will recognize in the near future is that what we’ve done in the past is basically hang gear on everything,” Russell said. “I think what additive manufacturing will do for us is it will enable true integration into the structures. We’ll get beyond this constant evolution where we’re just hanging the next sensor or the next GPS device. What we’ll do is start to integrate into the structures themselves. There will be a lot less weight, better performance, better characteristics of the materials and it will be more integrated as part of the total kit. I think that’s what soldiers will see in the next 10 to 15 years.”

The magazine features articles about how the Army has used forward-deployed 3-D printing labs in Afghanistan. The U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force, known as REF, found a practical way for deployed units to take advantage of additive manufacturing technology in theater.

“The idea with the labs is that REF brings scientists and engineers to the soldiers, even those in austere locations,” REF Director Steven Sliwa said. “Any soldier can come to the lab with a problem, and our experts will help them determine a path forward. Perhaps there is piece of kit in the REF inventory that will work; perhaps the lab can design and prototype a solution; or the Soldier may need to submit a 10-liner requirement document so that REF can procure a corresponding off-the-shelf solution.”

Requirements drive the Army science and technology community. The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command looks to the science and technology community to inform the establishment of requirements. Army acquisition program managers often turn to the RDECOM community and seek help from Army researchers, engineers and scientists to help meet those requirements.

“Future requirements under development at TRADOC may include the capability for a Soldier to download a part file out from a master parts library; print the part; take the part off the machine; put it on a system and accomplish his or her mission,” said Andy Davis, Army Manufacturing Technology program manager.

Davis said the Army must focus on technology development and policy advances to achieve its vision.

“The Army will get to a point where it can print and build parts using additive processes that are combined with subtractive processes,” Davis said. “Someday that will all be integrated.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 24, 2015

News: More than $1 billion in U.S. emergency reconstruction aid goes missing in Afghanistan - A total of $1.3 billion that the Pentagon shipped to its force commanders in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2014 for the most critical reconstruction projects can’t be accounted for by the Defense Department, 60 percent of all such spending under an...
 
 

News Briefs April 24, 2015

German defense minister: widely used rifle has no future A widely used assault rifle has “no future” with the German military in its current form, Germany’s defense minister said April 22, escalating a dispute over the weapon’s alleged shortcomings. Ursula von der Leyen said last month that a study showed the G36 rifle has a...
 
 
Army photograph

Composites key to tougher, lighter armaments

Army photograph XM-360 test firing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in 2007, is shown. The Army is on the cusp of revolutionizing materials that go into armament construction, making for stronger, lighter and more durable weapo...
 

 

Northrop Grumman signs long-term agreement with Raytheon

Northrop Grumman has entered a long-term agreement with Raytheon to supply its LN-200 Inertial Measurement Unit for Raytheon optical targeting systems. The long-term agreement with Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business extends through 2018. The LN-200 provides camera stabilization on optical targeting systems that conduct long-range surveillance and target acquisition for various...
 
 

NTTR supports first F-35B integration into USMC’s weapons school exercise

The Nevada Test and Training Range was part of history April 21, when four U.S. Marine Corps-assigned F-35B Lightning IIs participated in its first Marine Corps’ Final Exercise of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course on the NTTR’s ranges. The Final Exercise, or FINEX, is the capstone event to the U.S. Marine Corps Marine Aviation...
 
 
AAR-Textron

AAR awarded new contract from Bell Helicopter Textron to support T64 engines

AAR announced April 22 that Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. awarded its Defense Systems & Logistics business unit a contract providing warehouse and logistics services in support of upgrading T64 engines for the Bell V-280 Val...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>