While 3D Systems‘ (NYSE:DDD) stock may be down considerably from its highs seen in early 2014, that doesn’t mean that the company isn’t continuing to push forward with a variety of major plans to expand their scope of offerings as well as garner the attention of large potential clients. One such client is the United States Government, and its various branches of their military.
Just last week we reported on the fact that the US Navy is working with 3D Systems in an effort to evaluate and fulfill strategic 3D printing initiatives. Via their ‘Print-the-Fleet’ project, the Navy is trying to educate sailors about 3D printing and further integrate its use into everyday operations. To do this they teamed with 3D Systems for the use of their thermoplastic and metal printing technologies.
That’s not where it ends though for 3D Systems and their military ambitions. In fact, a few months ago the company announced that they were awarded two different research contracts worth in excess of $1 million by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Per the contracts, 3D Systems would develop advanced aerospace and defense 3D printing manufacturing capabilities at a large scale for possible uses within the US Air Force. The first project at the time sought to integrate predictive technologies with metal additive manufacturing machines produced by 3D Systems, while the second contract provided the Air Force as well as aerospace and defense manufacturers with access to 3D Systems’ Direct Metal 3D printers.
Building off of these contracts announced in February, 3D Systems in cooperation with America Makes, Honeywell, Penn State’s Center for Innovative Materials Processing, and the Air Force Research Laboratory have just announced a new $1.3 million contract which will utilize 3D Systems’ Direct Metal Printing technologies to construct a cutting-edge aircraft heat exchanger.
“Additive manufacturing offers design freedoms that are simply not possible using traditional manufacturing process,” stated John Wilczynski, America Makes Deputy Director of Technology Development. “The teaming by America Makes with industry leaders and researchers that possess substantial experience in heat exchangers and 3D printing will allow us to explore higher-performing and lower-cost conformal parts. As a result, both the Air Force and the defense industry are poised to benefit greatly from this directed project.”
This project, which is funded by the AFRL and spearheaded by America Makes, will revolutionize the manufacturing of jet engines according to 3D Systems, and also will further introduce 3D printing into the heat exchanger market–which is a multi-billion dollar opportunity.
“3DS’ Direct Metal Printing technology is second-to-none,” explained Neal Orringer, Vice President of Alliances & Partnerships, 3DS. “This contract selection will allow our team to deliver to the Air Force innovative, high-performing heat exchangers, and will provide valuable data on part strength, pressure resistance and performance.”
In addition to creating heat exchangers using new manufacturing methods, the flow of key data from the evaluation of such techniques will be provided to all America Makes members, which include every major aerospace and defense company for the US. As an added benefit for 3D Systems, the results of this project may influence Honeywell to quickly integrate 3D Systems’ machines further into their supply chain.
Although this project will not immediately equate to substantial revenue for 3D Systems, the long run prospects and implications of this project could have quite an impact on the company’s future revenue streams.
Let us know your thoughts on this news and the possible implications for companies like 3D Systems. Discuss in the Air Force 3D Printing contract forum thread on 3DPB.com.