Army engineers explore 3D printing possibilities

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Greg Henderson, acting chief of the Manufacturing Readiness & Industrial Base Branch at the U.S. Army CCDC C5ISR Center and Andrew Davis, Mechanical Engineer at U.S. Army CCDC C5ISR Center, discuss additive manufacturing techniques, and how they could be a useful tool for the Army supply chain.


The Army is exploring new technologies to augment their supply chain. One of the biggest challenges to maintaining vehicles in the field is replacement parts for equipment. Greg Henderson, acting chief of the Manufacturing Readiness & Industrial Base Branch at the U.S. Army CCDC C5ISR Center says that the technology has grown considerably in the past few years.

 

“We are now able to print metals and different types of materials that we might not have had before, including ceramics, plastics and polymers now,” Henderson said. “Some of the improvements include technology, the computing technology is getting cheaper, laser precision is going up. We also have back in 2012 they government helped to stand up something called ‘America Makes.’ That helped to add more emphasis on additive manufacturing to the entire group.”

 

According to Andrew Davis, Mechanical Engineer at U.S. Army CCDC C5ISR Center. Additive manufacturing is a useful tool, but it’s not a “push-button” solution.

 

“The engineering aspect of going through and taking what was originally designed to be manufactured not additively and doing the behind the scenes work to make sure that that item can be manufactured additively, whether it is the design, the material, the process, it’s all of these really important details that yield that final part that we can hand to a soldier and say, ‘Here, this is good to go.’ There’s a lot of effort to be done in that space,” Davis said.