French soldiers deployed to Mali use 3D printers to make spare parts

French soldiers deployed to Operation Barkhane in the Sahel have been experimenting for several months with 3D printers to make spare parts at their base in Mali.

French soldier 3D prints parts in Gao, Mali

According to a Ministry of the Armed Forces release, Desert Tactical Group – Logistics “Charentes” is responsible for testing the feasibility of using the two 3D printers at the large base in Gao to make components.

In general, the specialists at the base a tasked to produce replacements for broken components.

They follow a familiar process – first modelling the part on a computer and then printing, testing, iterating and refining where necessary.

Small parts can be printed in minutes and more complex projects within hours, saving time and effort in transporting equipment to the relatively remote base in central Mali.

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UK MoD to harness AI and 3D printing in new relationship with industry

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has unveiled a new approach to harnessing emerging technologies like AI and 3D printing.

The Defence Technology Framework and Defence Innovation Priorities have set out how the Government will address the accelerating pace of technological change in the years to come.

MoD to harness AI and 3D printing in new relationship with industry

This includes identifying technologies that can revolutionise defence as well as outlining a more sophisticated relationship with industry.

The documents respond to the Modernising Defence Programme, which was launched in January 2018, and outlined its conclusions later that year.

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3D printer makes peacekeeping missions cheaper and repair of defense systems faster

Peacekeeping missions often take place at remote locations, requiring the army to have a large supply of spare parts on site to keep everything running. Dutch researcher Bram Westerweel comes to the conclusion that taking a 3D printer on a mission to print parts can save hundreds of thousands of euros and, at the same time, reduce the downtime of defense equipment. The savings on operational costs sometimes total more than half. The findings of Westerweel, who received his Ph.D. yesterday, can also be applied to industries with remote locations, such as the offshore industry.

Quick return on investment

The army’s systems have many thousands of types of spare parts. Based on his research, Westerweel expects that a total of 10-20 percent of the components of the armed forces can be made by additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. The total savings by 3D printing on relatively large peacekeeping missions like the ones in Mali and Sudan, could then run up to hundreds of thousands. The printer itself costs a one-off €25,000, making for a quick return on investment. The Dutch army is already experimenting with such a printer in Mali.

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3D printing technology enhancing logistics for Army

A Soldier holds a cap used to protect the fire extinguishing system housed in the wheel wells of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Without the cap, MRAPs are deemed non-mission-capable. Soldiers in Korea saved 1,472 operational days for their MRAPs by 3-D printing the caps for about $2.50 each.
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This photo shows a 3D printer producing six-inch cap, used to protect the fire extinguishing system housed the wheel wells of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Soldiers in Korea identified a fire-suppression cap degradation issue and turned to 3D printing technology for help. The team requested engineering support from the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.
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FORT MEADE, Md. — As 3D printing increases both in the field and at depots, the Army’s Center of Excellence for Additive and Advanced Manufacturing is slated to reach initial operating capability this year at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.

Lt. Gen. Aundre Piggee, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-4, outlined the Army’s current 3D printing capabilities at the 2019 Military Additive Manufacturing Summit and Technology Showcase Feb. 6, in Tampa, Florida. 

At the summit, defense, academia, and industry officials were privy to the latest additive manufacturing technologies, event officials said. The Army will leverage these improved 3D printing capabilities to bolster equipment readiness and reduce logistics burdens, Piggee said.

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3D printing applied to MRO of F/A-18 Hornet by U.S. Marines

A pilot looks out of the canopy of his F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft. U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Ian C. Anderson

At the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, southern Japan, 3D printing is now in use to keep F/A-18 Hornet multirole fighters airborne.

MCAS Iwakuni engineers have devised two products that reduce the time it takes to repair the fighter jets, saving costs for the U.S. Department of Defense. The products help with the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the fighter jets, covering all tasks carried out to ensure the airworthiness of an flight vehicle.

The 3D printed products include an engine ship kit, designed by the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 (MALS 12), and a plastic ring kit that helps the maintenance of the bearings on the F/A-18’s Gatling gun. 

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Fathom and U.S. Marines create modular logistics vehicle with additive manufacturing

FATHOM, a Californian design studio, has used additive manufacturing to create a Modular Logistics Vehicle (MLV) for the United States Marine Corps (USMC).

An MLV complete with 88 3D printed parts. .Image via Launch Forth.

Frustrated by the unresponsiveness of traditional supply chains, Marines from the 29 Palms base generated the concept of converting standard utility vehicles into customizable transport suited for a diverse range of missions.  

This project was facilitated by the Launch Forth platform, as well as Deloitte, and Siemens.

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NAVSEA approves first metal 3D printed shipboard component for US Navy

The U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has approved the first 3D printed part, a prototype drain strainer orifice (DSO) assembly, for shipboard installation.

The 3D printed prototype drain strainer orifice (DSO) assembly component. Photo via NAVSEA.

“This install marks a significant advancement in the Navy’s ability to make parts on demand and combine NAVSEA’s strategic goal of on-time delivery of ships and submarines while maintaining a culture of affordability,” said Rear Admiral Lorin Selby, NAVSEA Chief Engineer and Deputy Commander for Ship Design, Integration, and Naval Engineering.

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U.S. Marines 3D print F-35 part to save US$ 70,000

A team of U.S. Marines 3D printed a part for the F-35 stealth fighter saving $70,000 in costs for a whole new landing gear door.

The landing gear of F-35A Lightning II. Photo via the Eglin Air Force Base

The component is a small part mounted on the door pressing it into the latch. It was designed and 3D printed by Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 31 (CLB-31) in Carderock, Maryland.

Sam Pratt, a mechanical engineer at the Carderock’s Additive Manufacturing Project Office, provided further technical assistance to the team.

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US Navy will rely on 1,000 3D printed parts by the end of 2018

The U.S. Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) is ramping up production of 3D printed parts.

System Command estimates that it will have approximately 1,000 3D printed parts approved for use across the fleet before the end of 2018. Currently only 135 3D printed parts are authorised for use.

3D printing helmets to flight-critical parts

3D printed parts will be used in a range of Naval applications, from modifications to helmets to critical parts for aircraft: NAVAIR categorizes parts depending on their air-worthiness. Parts not requiring airworthiness can be fabricated more quickly.

Fabricating a MV-22B nacelle link inside a directed energy deposition 3D printer. Photo via NAVAIR.

In 2016 NAVAIR proved that 3D printing could be used to produce safety-critical parts with the successful flight of an MV-22B Osprey, fitted with a 3D printed titanium engine nacelle link and attachment. Last spring, a 3D printed flip-top valve was added to the T-45 Goshawk breathing mask, allowing pilots in training to breathe cabin air up to a certain altitude. 300 valves were printed within a month without which training would have been impossible.

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Boeing partners Oerlikon to speed up adoption of 3D printing

Boeing is co-operating with Swiss engineering group Oerlikon to jointly develop additive manufacturing processes in a bid to accelerate the technology’s wider employment.

Oerlikon says it signed a five-year collaboration agreement with the US airframer to create “standard materials and processes” for the production of “structural” titanium components through 3D printing.

“The research will initially focus on industrialising titanium powder bed fusion additive manufacturing and ensuring parts made with this process meet the flight requirements of the US Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense,” says Oerlikon.

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