Jul 30, 2016 | By Benedict

Burdened with a number of obsolete and broken aircraft, the US Marine Corps (USMC) is turning to additive manufacturing technology to help restore its fleet, giving pilots a better opportunity to receive essential training. The USMC has already trialled a 3D printing scheme in one of its battalions.

Back in April, we heard news of a military 3D printing experiment being carried out by the Marines of 1st Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group. The battalion had been given a number of on-loan 3D printers for a six-month period in order to print its own spare parts, with the USMC curious to see how the technology could be used to solve real-world defense problems. After seeing the 3D printers in action first-hand, ground radio repairman Cpl. Samuel Stonestreet commented that it was “very important for the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense as a whole to look into [3D printing] and see how we can implement it into missions.” Now, according to a report from Cpl. Jim Truxel (US Marine Corps 1977-1981) written for SAAB USA, the Marines could soon be heeding Cpl. Stonestreet’s advice as they look to take their additive exploits to the next level.

Faced with a shortage of flyable aircraft in recent years, the USMC has had trouble providing all of its pilots with the training required to develop them into highly skilled flyers. However, in order to restore obsolete or damaged aircraft to give those pilots a plane to fly in, the marines have had to devote even more manpower towards maintenance and obsolescence solutions development, effectively reducing flying time even further—at least in the short term. To solve this ongoing problem, the US Department of Defense is looking to implement more 3D printing workstations, such as those provided to the 1st Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, in order to produce replacement parts at high speed.

Since 3D printing enables staff to create one-off parts in a very small space of time, it can be incredibly useful for maintenance of equipment, especially in the field, where there is a scarcity of spare parts. By printing parts themselves, Marines will also be able to cut out a number of middlemen in the part supply chain, enabling them to maintain equipment at a lower cost. Although not everything can be 3D printed, the armed forces have already found multiple uses for the technology, from the Army’s 3D printed drones, to the Navy’s space-printed Tru Clip, to the Air Force’s 3D printed armrest parts. The USMC is now looking to join the rest of the gang by taking advantage of the benefits afforded by additive manufacturing—advantages which include streamlined part design, reduced storage costs, and the ability to customize parts to suit particular applications.

While the 1st Maintenance Battalion has been using its 3D printing facilities to produce relatively small components such as tools and radio brackets, it is hoped that developments in additive manufacturing technology will soon enable the USMC to produce significant spare parts for those out-of-action aircraft which need putting back in the air.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

Maybe you also like:


   






Leave a comment:

Your Name:

 


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now six years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive