It has almost been unbelievable how many separate applications the various branches of the United States Military are both researching, and utilizing 3D printing technology for. Clearly the technology is the wave of the future for combat, training, and even tactical initiatives within the military.
3D Systems has been front and center in many of these projects, working with the Department of Defense on a project to print end-use components for the Joint Strike Fighter and the T-Hawk unmanned micro air-vehicle. They have also been at the forefront on numerous medical applications of the technology. Today, 3D Systems has announced another interesting partnership, this time with the U.S. Marine Corps.
3D Systems is working with the Marine Corps to provide its 3D printing, scanning, and inspection technology for the annual US Marine Corps Expeditionary Logistics Wargame. Typically this event is used to enhance the Corps’ supply chain, as well as logistics response capabilities. New technologies are usually introduced, which planners are able to implement, and test during simulated operations.
This year’s wargame will require engineers to utilize 3D Systems’ advanced scanning and metal printing technologies to try and repair damaged equipment on scene, within a short period of time. The Marine Corps engineers will have at their disposal, 3D Systems’ Geomagic Capture systems, which are 3D scanners that use a software called Geomagic Design Direct (formerly Geomagic Spark). Their task will be to repair a tactical multipurpose robot, used for clearing debris and other obstacles in an area so that a helicopter can be landed. Using the 3D scanning system, engineers will be able to create detailed CAD models of the damaged components of the robot, and quickly fabricate copies of the damaged parts via 3D Systems’ direct metal printing and selective laser sintering fab-grade printers. Once printed they will use a software called Geomagic Control to digitally inspect the printed components, ensuring that they are accurate fits.
“We are thrilled to work with the U.S. Department of Defense to modernize tactics across multiple domains (land, air, sea, cyber, and space) and demonstrate to the Marine Corps the latest tools to deliver rapid response solutions in critical applications,” said Neal Orringer, Vice President of Alliances and Partnerships at 3DS. “We are pleased to be a partner in this effort to improve tactical responses and help save warfighters’ lives.”
Typically during a military operation, a damaged piece of equipment would require a shipment of components used for its repair, which could take weeks unless the proper parts were already on hand. The Marines hope that by using powerful, advanced 3D printing and scanning systems, that they can save valuable time, and possibly even lives.
“It’s my strong belief that 3D printing and advanced manufacturing are breakthrough technologies for our maintenance and logistics functions of the future,” said Vice Admiral Cullom in a recent video. “We can gain new capabilities to make rapid repairs, print tools and parts, where and when they are needed, carry fewer spares and, ultimately, transform our maritime maintenance and logistics supply chain.”
Their is no doubt that this technology has the capabilities to transform military strategies around the globe, save the lives of soldiers, as well as even help to reduce expenses associated with urgent repairs of equipment.
Let’s hear your thoughts about the current wargame taking place, in the 3D Systems wargame forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the brief video below, provided by 3D Systems, showing off some of their specialized military scan-to-print solutions.
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