3D printing at depots and in the field, the U.S. Army approach

According to an article in Defense News The U.S. Army develops a process for using 3D Printing capabilities across the service from arsenals, depots and plants, and then down to the tactical level.

According to Gen. Gus Perna, the head of Army Materiel Command., the Army has dabbled in 3D printing — also known as additive manufacturing — at an expeditionary level with mobile trailers, and it has used 3D printers to produce polymers for critical replacement parts like plastic caps. In subtractive manufacturing, products are typically made by cutting out sections of material using a computer numerical control machine.

But as the technology evolves, the service is working to codify a means to effectively use the capability across the force including in the field.

The Army secretary adopted an advanced manufacturing policy in October 2019 that does just that and enhances the supply chain in the field and at maintenance depots, Perna told Defense News in a statement in December.

So a policy is in place to move forward, an executive order is under development to support execution, and the Army purchased equipment and established the Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.

At this point, the plan is to make Rock Island “the hub” of additive manufacturing capability and then selectively choose capabilities to reside at the 25 other various depots, plants and arsenals, Perna said. The Army has invested roughly $25 million in equipment at the hub. According to Perna, that has filled roughly a quarter of a warehouse at Rock Island, which he’d like to see reach capacity.

This topic wull be presented at the Online AM for Defense Conference.

Source: defensenews.com

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