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US Army Announces plans to use Additive Manufacturing for Faster & Cheaper repairing of Tanks & Equipment

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additive manufacturing

Above: US Army’s M1 Abrams Tank/Image Credit: US Army

US Army has announced its plans to use additive manufacturing technology to produce replacement parts on-site, for tanks and other equipment back into the battlefield. It believes that additive manufacturing technology will be a faster and cheaper way to repair & service all types of equipments.

An expeditionary capability to print parts will enable US military forces to extend the range of a brigade combat team. 

The US Army initiative will put strategic guidance out to the service and industry partners to indicate the number of resources, people and funding into additive manufacturing technology the US Army will be investing in its future plans.

As per a statement to Army Times, Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy said, “We’re already doing it in 2021, but we needed to get more aggressive so we could have a comprehensive approach.”

Dr. Alexis L. Ross, a deputy assistant Army secretary for strategy and acquisition reform explained that “Additive manufacturing, composite materials, and machine learning have already brought a new industrial revolution to private industry. This is a significant step forward in manufacturing and design.”

Dr. Ross had earlier visited an Army vendor’s facilities where they were developing composite materials and she recalled, “An interesting composite material where they were taking silicon and metal and essentially fusing it together. And that silicon-metal composite ends up being flexible, lightweight, resilient, heat resistant and it’s got these combinations of great physical properties.”

additive manufacturing

Above: GE LEAP-1B engines with 3D printed nozzles used in Boeing 737 Max/Image Credit: General Electric

Additive manufacturing is already used by some of the leading industry players like NASA, Boeing, and even US Air Force. All these have reaped benefits from the technology and this is what prompted the US Army to adopt the technology as well.

The US Army leaders hope additive manufacturing will have two key benefits – First, it will reduce the cost of equipment and parts and second, the technology could significantly enhance the Army’s logistics train, helping its forces fight further away from the U.S. industrial base.

McCarthy stated, “If you can produce them much faster, and have them on hand, you can reduce costs because you can be lighter. Those parts, thanks to things like composite materials, could also weigh substantially less.”

McCarthy added, “A key principle in manufacturing weapons systems is how you find ways to reduce the weight of the weapon system so it is faster and it can carry more weapons or avionics payloads because you reduced the weight of parts.”

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