AMS Spring 2023

Essentium Demos High-Speed 3D Printer at US Navy’s REPTX 2022

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Essentium, a Texas-based additive manufacturing (AM) services provider and original equipment manufacturer (OEM), announced that the company successfully participated in the US Navy’s REPTX 2022 exercises, which were held August 22-September 2. REPTX is a showcase for military tech held by the US Navy at Port Hueneme, CA, aboard the US Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship (the ex-US Paul F. Foster, DD 964).

Essentium’s demonstration at REPTX revolved around a modified version of the company’s 280i HT 3D printer. Essentium worked with the US National Guard Bureau as well as the US Air Force on augmenting the machine so that it could be field deployable. During REPTX, members of Essentium’s team, along with all the other participants, used a wide range of critical emerging technologies in scenarios meant to simulate battle conditions.

In a press release announcing the company’s success at REPTX, Zach Burhop, Applications Engineer III at Essentium, commented, “The unique environment of a Navy ship showcased the need for a deployable digital manufacturing solution that can address the wide diversity of part needs both at port and when under way.” Elisa Teipel, Ph.D., Essentium’s chief technology officer (CTO), added, “Essentium is committed to exploration at the edge of [AM] and is grateful to have found such amazing partners in ARCWERX, the Air Force Rapid Sustainment Office, and now the US Navy to do so.”

The 280i relies on Essentium’s version of independent dual extrusion (IDEX) technology. Essentium claims the 280i is the only printer on the market with “true IDEX” technology, meaning each printhead is fully independent on both the X- and Y-axes.

Owing to the dual independent printheads, the 280i is not only faster than other extrusion AM technologies, but is also capable of five different print modes. Clearly, as is evident from the fact that Essentium has already worked with the National Guard and Air Force on modifying the version of the printer used at REPTX, the 280i’s versatility and speed make it ideal for military applications. Beyond that, the same qualities make it ideal for any situation where space is at a premium and every machine needs to do as many different things as possible.

Moreover, the fact that the modified 280i being used in REPTX was essentially a joint effort between the Air Force, the National Guard, and the US Navy, further highlights the demand for versatility in the AM market. Even at a Navy-centered event, the interest isn’t solely in what can be done for ships, but — for instance — what can be done to repair planes on ships. Similarly, in a deal MatterHackers recently made with the Naval Information Warfare Center, MatterHackers is primarily interested in developing solutions for ground vehicle repairs for the US Marines.

Thus, the US Navy’s recently increasing interest in AM has as much to do with the Navy’s place in the military, as a whole, as it does with AM’s relevance to the Navy, specifically. From both angles, then, the most versatile technology and the most versatile branch of the military make a logical fit.

Images courtesy of Essentium

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