U.S. Army has recently selected 3D printing specialist 3D Systems for the fabrication of a fastest metal powder 3D Printer. The U.S. government has invested $15 million to enable the development of this metal 3D printing technology.
In order to advance the country’s competitiveness and national security, the U.S. government has invested in key 3D printing technologies over the past few years. Skilcraft and Optomec are a few examples of companies that deliver specific 3D printing equipment to the U.S. government.
The truth is the U.S. Army has been taking advantage of additive manufacturing for two decades now to create custom tools. Today, it aims to harness its own manufacturing experience by placing the future large-scale system in its depots and labs. Furthermore, 3D Systems and its partners will make the new 3D printing technology available to key aerospace and defense suppliers. The latter will only develop futuristic Army platforms.
As far as technology’s specifications are concerned, we can expect a build envelope of 1000mm x 1000mm x 600mm that will enable to build minimum wall thickness of 100µm and layer thickness of 30µm. This will certainly be a major development if we take into account that current large-scale metal AM Systems have a build envelope of 500mm x 500mm x 500mm.
“The Army is increasing readiness by strengthening its relationships and interoperability with business partners, like 3D Systems, who advance warfighter requirements at the best value to the taxpayer,” said Dr. Joseph
South, ARL’s program manager for Science of Additive Manufacturing for Next Generation Munitions. “Up until now, powder bed laser 3D printers have been too small, too slow, and too imprecise to produce major ground combat subsystems at scale. Our goal is to tackle this issue head-on with the support of allies and partners who aid the Army in executing security cooperation activities in support of common national interests, and who help enable new capabilities for critical national security supply chains.”
Evaluating the integration of these new technologies into the existing portfolio of the company
3D Systems is also considering the integration of the new technology that it will develop into its existing portfolio of 3D Printers.
“Through this project, we’re looking forward to delivering a working manufacturing system like no other,” said Chuck Hull, co-founder and chief technology officer, 3D Systems. “From the early years of 3D Systems, our desire to innovate has been fueled by our customers’ drive to be leaders in their respective industries. The solutions we develop have complemented many manufacturers’ processes to help maintain their competitive advantage. ARL has already realized the power of AM to transform its operations. We look forward to collaborating with them to scale and expand these capabilities by delivering first-to-market processes, materials, and technologies.”
“What 3D Systems is doing currently is nothing short of pioneering,” said Lisa Strama, president and CEO, NCMS. “As the capstone project of the AMMP Program, it will lead to critical breakthroughs for our members and partners, enhancing performance and speeding innovations to market. This technology will be not only transformational for supporting our warfighter, but also across the supply chain.”
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