AMS Spring 2023

Tronix3D Demonstrates 3D Printing Data Collection Tech for U.S. Army

Inkbit

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The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), which manages America Makes, announced that Tronix3D, one of the participating companies in its multi-phased AMNOW Program, recently held a successful technology demonstration for officials from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), or DEVCOM, along with representatives from fellow AMNOW Program partner LECS Energy LLC and the NCDMM.

L-R: Kyle Metsger and Buck Helfferich, Tronix3D; George Barnych, NCDMM; Kathy Olson, US Army; and Ashley Totin, NCDMM, at Tronix3D

Tronix3D is the first high-volume 3D printing contract manufacturer in the greater Pittsburgh area. It’s housed in Westmoreland County Community College’s Advanced Technology Center (ATC) and offers rapid prototyping, product development, and design services, working with companies in the robotics, military, medical, electronics, automotive, and aerospace industries to create high-volume, 3D printed end use parts. According to Tronix3D, its “state-of-the-art 3D printing operation” can make “hundreds of parts up to 10 times faster” than other printers on the market.

“We’re more than just 3D printing experts, we’ll help you understand the Multi Jet Fusion technology, explore its endless capabilities, and get your product to market faster than ever thought possible,” the company states on its website.

The company is ITAR Registered, NIST 800-171 Compliant, and Joint Certification Program (JCP) Certified, and offers the following services to its customers:

  • Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing from HP
  • Laser metal fusion 3D printing from TRUMPF Additive
  • SLA 3D printing with the Envision One cDLM
  • Evatronix 3D scanning
  • Serialization of parts
  • Rapid prototyping
    • Conceptual and manufacturing design
    • Collaborative and reverse engineering
  • Value-added services like dye finishing, painting, plating, and mechanical assembly

Another important Tronix3D capability is its 3D printing data collection. During the recent AMNOW demonstration for the DEVCOM officials and NCDMM and LECS Energy representatives, Tronix3D demonstrated the real-time collection abilities of its IoT sensors, operations software, and embedded programmable nanoparticles.

“One of the goals Tronix3D has within the project is to improve data collection and transference during additive manufacturing to help maintain and control the 3D printing process,” explained Tronix3D President Buck Helfferich. “This monitoring is an important component of the manufacturing process to ensure a repeatable production process of high-quality parts.”

(Image: Tronix3D)

AMNOW is helping the US Army create a straightforward transition path for adopting AM, all the way from benchmarking and development to validation and demonstrating the future supply chain. The purpose is to support inserting AM technologies into the current supply chain in order to increase Army readiness and the on-demand production of materials and components that will support the military on the battlefield. The multi-year contract program, funded by the U.S. Army CCDC Aviation & Missile Center through the Manufacturing Science and Technology (MS&T) Division under the new US Army Futures Command, uses joint planning and execution to leverage capabilities and capacities from both public and private agencies and institutions.

The cloud connection AMNOW is creating between the U.S. Army and the supply is a new system called the Advanced Manufacturing Intelligence Platform (AMIP), which allows manufacturing process information about 3D printed critical parts to be quickly transferred between the Army and its suppliers. During the demonstration hosted by Tronix3D, the attendees also saw LEC Energy’s Learning Integrated Manufacturing System (LIMS), an edge device within AMIP, being implemented, as well as watching the data collection process during 3D printing. The LIMS device uses some impressive cryptographic hardware, which we don’t usually see in typical manufacturing environments, to ensure a secure digital connection from the supply chain, which enables Tronix3D to safely collect process data.

“As the lead of the AMNOW program, we are pleased with Tronix3D’s progress, as well as the outcome of the demonstration, and are excited about continuing our relationship. This visit was significant for us to identify the future benefits of the data being collected by Tronix3D, including perpetual updates to cybersecurity protocols, process optimization, and overall operational efficiency,” said NCDMM Senior Project Engineer Ashley Totin.

L-R: Nat Frampton, LECS Energy; George Barnych, NCDMM; Kathy Olson, US Army; and Joe Veranese and Ashley Totin, NCDMM

Tronix3D industry partner TRUMPF Additive can also access real-time machine data from its metal 3D printers using Tronix3D’s technology.

(Source/Images: NCDMM, unless otherwise noted)

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