Jan.14, 2013

The U.S. Army's Rapid Equipping Force (REF) deployed the second mobile laboratory to the war zone in Afghanistan on January 7, 2013.

Working with Applied Minds, Inc. and Exponent, REF is able to set up mobile labs at remote operating bases equipped with 3D printers, CNC mills, laser cutters and water cutters for fabricating parts on the spot.

The third mobile lab is currently under construction and due to deploy around June this year, reported Foxnews.

The mobile lab is a 20-foot container, costs $2.8 million, that can be transported by truck or helicopter to any location.

"Soldiers walk into the lab and say, 'this is my problem.' The PhDs then do the work and show it to the soldiers. The soldiers give them feedback," and they work together tinkering with the tech until it is exactly fit for purpose, explained Westley Brin, product manager with the REF.

(A commonly used Army-issue flashlight has raised, exposed button that allow the light to be accidently turned on in pocket or pouch. This guard was developed and printed to prevent accidental power up and to save batteries. (Army Rapid Equipping Force) )

Engineers can work together inside each mobile lab to use 3D printers and CNC Machining systems to create plastic, steel and aluminum parts as they desire. This will help accelerating the design and production process and reducing the pressure of logistics. And the front-line users can give feedback of design immediately. Through this approach the U.S. Army plans to enhance the sustainability of individual combat and small forward operating bases (FOB).






Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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