American 3D Printers to Speed Up Repairs on Ukraine’s Front Lines

Published on September 18, 2023 by Michael M.
3D printers are being sent to Ukraine to help in war efforts

In Ukraine’s continued fight against Russia, the use of 3D printers has taken on an ever-growing role. The transportable, on-site, on-demand nature of additive manufacturing has proven to be a real boost to the Ukrainian war effort. Applications are varied as well with everything from frontline uses like manufacturing weapons components and drones, to the civilian sector in construction and medical care for victims of the conflict, and even using 3D scanning in an effort to uncover justice amidst the chaos. Now, it is once again safe to say that 3D printing has stepped back into service as the United States has announced the handover of several large, industrial-grade 3D printers that are capable of providing the Ukrainian armed forces with spare parts and 3D printed replacements for their battlefield equipment.

Speaking at the Center for New American Security (CNAS) think tank, US Under-Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante stated that the industrial 3D printers were delivered to Ukraine last month and that Ukrainian engineers had recently completed their training on how to use the devices. “It’s going right in-theater and they’re printing all their repair parts,” explains LaPlante, highlighting the main objective for these printers – to manufacture parts for Ukrainian vehicles, aircraft and machinery on-location that can be used to make repairs much faster than waiting on traditional parts and supply chains.

3D printing has already been used to manufacture spare parts in the automotive industry using methods such as laser powder bed fusion (Photo credits: Mercedes-Benz)

While the exact type or model of the industrial 3D printers was not specified, given their large size and purpose (LaPlante mentions that the printers are the size of a small truck), we can assume that they could any number of industrial 3D printers. Some potential include either binder jetting or powder bed fusion 3D printers that are able to construct multiple parts in a single batch out of metal or ceramic, though are not always this large. Alternatively, they may include direct energy deposition (DED) printers which are often used specifically for metal-based repairs and tend to be very large.

Sending 3D Printers to Help Ukraine

In Ukraine, the plight to churn out repair parts has been an ongoing process amidst the war. A plight that had led to creativity and ad-hoc solutions. The arrival of these industrial-grade 3D printers is hoped to be part of a standardizing and streamlining effort with the use of official schematics and designs that may have previously been made outside of the proper channels as William LaPlante eludes: “Ukrainians were initially 3D printing their own parts before they even had the tech data packages. And as [Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment] Chris Lowman says, ‘When your country is under existential attack, intellectual property laws are just mildly interesting,'” LaPlante goes on to clarify, “but we’ve cleaned that up, we’ve gotten them – with other countries – gotten them all the tech data packages”.

DED 3D printing can be used to make repairs directly on the broken object. It has been used extensively in the industrial and aerospace sectors (photo credits: BeAM)

In any case, with the latest tool in their arsenal with the potential to make rapid repairs to keep their machines and materials in the field, we are sure to continue to see 3D printing innovations and renovations on the frontlines in Ukraine’s fight against tyranny.

What do you think about Ukraine’s 3D printed repair project? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter here, the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*Cover Photo Credits: АрміяInform

One comment

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  1. Chris Harris says:

    The printers referenced in this article were manufactured and sold by SPEE3D.

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