XERION 3D Printer Now Operational at NSWC Carderock

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XERION BERLIN LABORATORIES GmbH, a German original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of metal additive manufacturing (AM) hardware, has sold a Fusion Factory XS machine to the Department of Defense (DoD) that is now operational at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWC- CD), in West Bethesda, Maryland. The US Navy bought the Fusion Factory XS for $300,000, in furtherance of the Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (OUSD(RE)) Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) Program.

According to the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the FCT Program, founded in 1980, exists “to test items and technologies of our foreign allies that have a high Technology Readiness Level (TRL) in order to satisfy valid defense requirements quickly and economically.” TRL Levels are used across the US Federal Government to gauge the maturity of technological systems used by public agencies.

XERION’s Fusion Factory XS is a fused deposition modeling (FDM) system for metal and ceramic, which includes the company’s post-processing equipment, as well as a chiller for the printer’s laser system. The XS is XERION’s most compact printer for industrial use, giving it particular potential for forward-deployment.

In a press release about the successful installation, XERION CEO Marcus Ortloff said, “The US Department of Defense is working to rapidly adopt advanced manufacturing technologies to establish sovereign defense supply chains that are resilient, competitive, and sustainable. Our Fusion Factory XS stands alone as a sinter-based AM system capable of operation on an Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB), something which is crucial for the [US Marine Corp], US Army, and US Navy. The US Navy’s decision to install a XERION XS system at their facilities demonstrates their confidence in XERION’s advanced manufacturing technology and its ability to support the US Navy industrial base.”

Image courtesy of XERION

This particular FCT project involves the US Army Futures Command’s Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Armament Center (AFC-DEVCOM AC) in addition to the US Navy and Marine Corps, adding another layer of possibility for DoD deployment of the Fusion Factory XS. Moreover, given the connection to the FCT program and the US’s increased focus on integrating the US defense industrial base with the defense industrial bases of US allies, the sale could open the doors for XERION to tap into the entire NATO market for advanced manufacturing hardware.

Along these lines, observers of the AM industry are likely overlooking the potential for cumulative effects of US military vetting of AM technologies to lead to a tipping point. As I’ve frequently explained, it has taken the DoD years to build up the most relevant digital manufacturing technologies to the necessary TRL levels for widespread deployment, but, now that it has, we can expect the effectiveness of that decade-or-so process to act as an accelerant sooner rather than later.

By design, this won’t affect the US military alone, but, quite oppositely, will act to coordinate and streamline the nature of manufacturing activity across the entire manufacturing landscape of every nation in the DoD fold. It would be odd if that didn’t equate to a noticeable increase in the pace of activity in all the technological areas the DoD has put so much effort into bringing to maturity.

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