The US Army Continues to Turn to 3D Printing for Vehicular Parts

Published on April 5, 2023 by Avery S.
US Military is 3D printing parts

The United States Military has consistently been at the forefront of 3D printed innovations, often using additive manufacturing to produce their equipment. From bunkers and bridges to weapons and drones, the organization is a big proponent of 3D printing in virtually every aspect of its sector. The most recent project, propelled by The Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM), and backed by SAE government technologies and the U.S. Army DEVCOM Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC), comes in the form of 3D printed military ground vehicles.

According to the press release, the three branches are holding a reception on the opening of the Advanced Manufacturing Commercialization Center (AMCC) on April 6th. The center contains the Jointless Hull subsection tool which is a hybrid metal additive manufacturing machine that is being used for engineering research and production to support the full-size Hull machine, which can create massive metal parts for Humvees, tanks, and other ground vehicles. You may remember that we have previously told you about the Jointless Hull project, it was a project within the US Army to create a hull-scale tool for combat vehicles using its additive manufacturing technology. Now it seems that they have succeeded, starting with the opening of the new center.

The US Military is 3D Printing vehicular parts

Hybrid metal additive manufacturing machine located in Rock Island, Illinois (photo credits: left, Jerome Aliotta and right, U.S Army)

With 3D printing, parts up to three cubic feet in size can be produced on-demand, dramatically reducing building time and cost. In the past, the military had to order parts from manufacturers and wait for them to be delivered. This process takes weeks or even months, which is not ideal for military operations where time is of the essence. Given that many military vehicles are old and no longer in production, replacement parts are hard to come by. 3D printing allows the military to craft the desired part without relying on manufacturers. These parts, made on-site, reduce the waiting time from months to a few days.

Brandon Pender, GVSC Associate Director for the Materials Division, explains, “We’re planning to leverage the technology in this center to more efficiently manufacture parts, reduce weight, lower costs, and improve long-term sustainment efforts, all to improve Army readiness” .

Bearing all these advantages in mind, It is no mystery additive manufacturing is popular within the world of combat – and not just with the US military. The Royal Netherlands Army has also used 3D printing to produce spare parts for their military vehicles. By making the parts in-house and not outsourcing to traditional manufacturers, the Dutch army is less dependent and experiences similar perks, such as saving time and money. While it is still in its early stages, the use of additive manufacturing in the military is an exciting prospect that is already revolutionizing how spare parts are produced and supplied. In the meantime, find the official press release HERE.

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*Cover photo credits: U.S Army

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