Babcock installs first metal 3D printed parts for British Army

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Babcock engineers and installs the First Metal 3D Printed Parts for British Army
The 3D metal part featured on the Titan armoured vehicle’s periscope system/Credit: PO(Phot) Terry Seward/MOD/Defence Imagery

Babcock International Group (Babcock), a global defence company, engineered and installed the first metal 3D printed parts for British Army’s active armoured fleets. The steel components are thought to be the first made in this manner by any supplier to the Ministry of Defence (MOD), in order to address the growing challenges of technical and commercial obsolescence.

Babcock is in charge of the British Army’s fleet management, which includes over 50,000 vehicles ranging from quad bikes and generators to main battle tanks and weapons ranging from pistols to indirect artillery.

Metal 3D Printed Parts for British Army

Babcock uses metal 3D printed parts
Babcock uses metal 3D printed parts/Source: Babcock International

The significant achievement is part of Babcock’s longer-term global advanced manufacturing investment programme, which is developing a capability that could see parts printed anywhere in the world as and when the need arises. This could include seeing 3D printers onboard ships at sea or at military bases around the world.

The parts are fitted to in-service fleets, Titan, and Trojan vehicles as part of the periscope system, which ensures Army crews have visibility of their immediate surroundings.

“This investment in technology allows us to support our customers in a completely different way, at home and deployed on operations. If a component is required and cannot be sourced, we can now find a way to make it.

– Tom Newman, Land Chief Executive, Babcock International

Newman added, “As we look to the future of Equipment Support, Additive Manufacturing has significant implications for our customers, and I am delighted Babcock is leading the way in developing this capability.”

Babcock’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr Richard Drake added: “This marks a major milestone in finding solutions for obsolete parts and in tackling resilience in the supply chain – some of the biggest challenges engineering and manufacturing businesses like ours are facing. We’re using disruptive technologies to address that.

“For us, this is part of a growing investment programme around advanced and additive manufacturing, which we can now progress to other areas of our business and that is hugely exciting for Babcock.”

Brigadier Phil Prosser, CBE, Assistant Chief of Staff for Equipment, HQ Field Army commented, “The fitting of this additively manufactured part represents a key milestone for Defence and the Army. Additive has disrupted industry manufacturing processes and created an agile alternative to traditional mass manufacture. Working together with Babcock we have unlocked a pathway to manufacture certified parts.

“My role in the Field Army is to deliver safe, supported, available and ready equipment to meet Field Army current and future demand to operate, fight and win wars on land. This ability to rapidly manufacture parts will allow our equipment to rapidly deploy on operations, and to stay in the fight for longer. This is battle winning activity and we are committed to this collaboration and will continue to learn at this impressive pace.”

– Brigadier Phil Prosser, CBE, Assistant Chief of Staff for Equipment, HQ Field Army

Technology Partnership and Innovation Centre

Babcock announced a technology partnership with Plymouth Science Park in February, as well as the opening of a new innovation centre focused on additive manufacturing techniques. It now means that the process of printing obsolete or low-quantity parts, such as the periscope clamp, can be completed in days rather than months.

In the management of complex, critical, legacy, and low volume assets, digital solutions such as additive manufacturing are becoming increasingly important. Printing parts in this manner also ensures that companies that need to manufacture on a large scale can do so in a more sustainable manner, using only materials as needed.

Dr Drake added: “We won’t stop here. We are now working towards a future where the additive techniques and processes we are putting into place now; will be readily available across any part of the MOD we support.”

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Manufactur3D is an Indian Online 3D Printing Media Platform that reports on the latest news, insights and analysis from the Indian and the Global 3D Printing Industry.
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