Expeditionary metal 3D printing for the defense sector-new technology and latest status

presentation by Dipl.eng Stefan Ritt, Managing director SPEE3D Europe at Virtual Additive Manufacturing for Defense Conference [live, online, 16:30-18:00 CET). Stefan will speak on November 3, during the session Additive Manufacturing for and in the battle field: science fiction or reality? The Applications! For the complete program click here.

The Australian Army has now completed a successful two-week field trial of a ‘WarpSPEE3D’ metal 3D printer at the Mount Bundey Training Area, Northern Territory.

A team of Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME) soldiers from 1st Combat Service Support Battalion (1CSSB) overcame extreme conditions to design, print and finish a series of ground-breaking 3D printed parts in the field as case studies.

The trial proves metal 3D printing enabled, by appropriate technical documentation and engineering processes, can support the Army’s supply chain resilience and strengthen Australia’s sovereign capability.

Developed by SPEE3D, Australian award-winning manufacturer of metal additive manufacturing technology, WarpSPEE3D is the world’s first large-format metal 3D printer to use patented cold spray technology.

The printer is capable of printing large metal parts up to 40kg at a record-breaking speed of 100grams per minute. The process harnesses the power of kinetic energy, rather than relying on high-power lasers and expensive gasses, allowing 3D metal printing in the field, at an affordable cost.

Prior to the trial, the team conducted 3D printing training at Charles Darwin University, teaching them the skills they need to design, print, heat treat, machine, test and install metal parts that may fail in the field and can be difficult to replace with existing supply chains.

In one of the case studies during the trial, the team printed a Gunner’s ratchet. This specialized multi-tool is currently used by Defence in the service of the M242 Australian Light Armoured Vehicle Machine Gun. Sourcing the tool using existing supply chains can cost the Australian Army in both significant time and money.

During the trial it was proven that the ratchet can be easily replaced on demand and in the field with a version designed by 1CSSB personnel.

The 1CSSB design was 3D printed in under an hour and with a material that costs approximately $100.

Following success with the ratchet, 1CSSB designed and printed an essential metal mounting bracket on the bulk fuel support module which was not in the field supply inventory.

The part took thirty minutes to print; proving that with some design skills and metal 3D printing, Army soldiers can solve common problems.

These case studies, along with over forty others developed during the program, will now form a digital library to be accessed and printed on demand.

This trial proved the Australian Army are effectively able to supplement existing supply chains and connect the skills of the soldiers and a sovereign industry Capability to be ready now and future ready.

Stefan Ritt is Managing director at SPEE3D Europe. After earning his engineering degree in technical physics from the University of Applied Science in Lübeck, Germany, Stefan Ritt started his career in RP/AM in 1985 when running a prototype lab in the R&D arm of a coffee and vending machine company. After that, he held positions in QA and product management for mid-sized Dutch and Danish companies.

In 1998, Stefan took on international sales and marketing of RP tooling products for a UK/German joint venture. In this capacity, he was successful in international markets with the development and support of the transition of RPT and metal AM equipment into production equipment. Stefan has also worked for SLM Solutions where he continued his efforts to grow the metal AM market internationally. There he could manage to bring the first powder-bed Laser metal printer on display at an AMUG-conference to the US. He now works for SPEE3D from Melbourne-Australia, which brings another new metal AM technology for production into the market, as their European managing director.

He is a part-time lecturer for supply chain management at the technical university of Lübeck and guest lecturer for international business communication in marketing at the Technical University in Hamburg. He was also head of the DIN standardization group “additive manufacturing in aerospace” for 4 years and helped to develop the first international AM-standards for certification in that industry. In 2011, he was appointed as the European liaison officer and global ambassador for AMUG. As he travels around the world, he spreads the news about AMUG activities to expand the awareness of the users group in global markets. In 2015 he was awarded the AMUG-DINO for his continuous support and involvement for the user group and industry.

Every year he brings the latest news, trends and future outlooks of the AM industry from around the world to the audience at the AMUG conference.

Stefan is also part of the EPMA AM-steering comitee to help our association to focus on the additive manufacturing industry for our members.

SPEE3D printers can produce metal parts quickly and cost-effectively, suitable for commercial and industrial applications in the real world

This technology is ideally suited for the production of parts that are currently are produced by sand or die casting or parts that need to be printed quickly on request. The technology does this faster and more efficiently with all the added flexibility that 3D offers. Instead of using heat to melt metal powders, the patented technology of SPEE3D ultrasonic separation is used, in which a rocket nozzle accelerates metal powder up to three times the speed of sound.

The powder is then applied to a substrate attached to a six-axis robot arm.
SPEE3D has named this process ‘Supersonic 3D Deposition’ or ‘SPEE3D’.
In this process, the sheer kinetic energy of the particles causes the powder particles to
combine to form a high density part with normal metallurgical properties.

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