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US Marines Demonstrate 3D Printing in Flight for First Time on MV-22 Osprey

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MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor military aircraft
MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor military aircraft/Source: Military.com

US marines demonstrate 3D printing in flight for first time on MV-22 Osprey. Researchers from the Consortium for Additive Manufacturing Research and Education (CAMRE) at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) accomplished a first by printing a 3D model while on a U.S. military plane. Marines in Twentynine Palms, California, put on a display of making a medical arm cast while in flight on an MV-22 Osprey as part of a training exercise.

The MV-22 Osprey is a tiltrotor military aircraft that fuses the short takeoff and landing times of a helicopter with the high speeds and extensive range of a turboprop airliner. Its rate of nearly 260 mph, range of 426 nautical miles, and payload capacity make it an indispensable asset in assault support operations. Its safety and responsiveness are unparalleled, and it is a rare tool for Marines missions thanks to cutting-edge technologies like a glass cockpit and fly-by-wire control system.

3D Printing in Flight on MV-22 Osprey for First Time

US Marines Demonstrate 3D Printing in Flight for First Time on MV-22 Osprey. Engineer Spencer Koroly from the Naval Information Warfare Centre invented the printer known as the Advanced Manufacturing Operational System (AMOS). “I see this as revolutionary, being able to print on the move,” he said. When time is of the essence in a tense logistics situation, the ability to print on the go is invaluable.

3D Printing in Flight on MV-22 Osprey

US Marines Demonstrate 3D Printing in Flight for First Time on MV-22 Osprey/ Source: 3D Print.com

The demonstration was a joint effort between the Marine Corps’s Camp Pendleton-based Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron and the MIU. Using generative design software and a 3D scan of Marine’s arm, a medical cast was fabricated mid-flight on MV-22 Osprey.

After successfully deploying a 3D liquid metal printer on the USS Essex in 2022 during the biennial international military exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), hosted by the Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet, CAMRE has now achieved the goal of 3D printing in flight.

CAMRE’s Programme Manager Chris Curran said, “We are in a unique position to rapidly support the joint force and accelerate the adoption of advanced manufacturing.” This is a comment on the possibilities of additive manufacturing for the military.

On June 21 as part of a unified training exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Centre in Twentynine Palms, California, the display was a resounding success. While taxiing, taking off, and doing other in-flight maneuvers on MV-22 Osprey, the AMOS was used to 3D print a medical cast, demonstrating outstanding technological innovation. The exercise included operating troops from the Marine Troops Reserve, the I Marine Expeditionary Force, and the 3D Marine Aircraft Wing to establish a dispersed manufacturing model in a demanding logistics scenario.

Mission of CAMRE to rapidly provide results to the warfighter

This was a watershed moment for the company, as Koroly put it: “Nothing is more expeditionary than printing medical devices and swarm robotics in the back of an aircraft.” This success highlights the revolutionary potential of 3D printing while in flight MV-22 Osprey, which might usher in a new era of mobility and on-the-go production.

When asked about his hopes for the future of 3D printing, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Michael Radigan of the MIU, who also participated in the operational testing, said, “We are just scratching the surface on the capabilities that will come from being able to 3D print in flight.” Modular installations of dozens of printers on board aircraft will allow for mobile production on a scale never previously seen.

Also read: RapidFlight acquires Local Motors’ Intellectual Property Portfolio

In addition to this proof of concept, CAMRE aims to speed up the joint force’s use of innovative manufacturing techniques. In addition to proving concepts through operational exercises, their mission also includes offering education and certifications to improve the skill pool for the joint force.

The NPS aims to improve the naval service’s operational effectiveness, technical leadership, and warfighting advantage through defense-focused graduate education and interdisciplinary research.

The NPS has participated in several projects, including looking into 3D printing to make unmanned systems like drones, as part of its Consortium for Robotics and Unmanned Systems Education and Research (CRUSER). In addition, researchers from NPS have been rapidly exploring the feasibility of using AM to produce vital equipment in hard-to-reach or conflict zones. One student developed a method for 3D printing full-scale submarine hull sections to speed up and lower the price of submarine production.

The NPS’s dedication to AM research and development demonstrates the promising future for AM in military applications. Researchers have paved the way for a new era of mobile manufacturing and quick response times by demonstrating 3D printing in flight aboard an MV-22 Osprey. These ground-breaking endeavors have the potential to alter the nature of expeditionary warfare by paving the way for novel approaches to logistics, repair, and mission flexibility.

About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D Printing. Visit our Global News page for more updates on Global 3D Printing News. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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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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