Apr 10, 2017 | By Tess

The European Defence Agency (EDA) is launching a project to explore the impact that 3D printing technology could have on the defense industry. For the project, entitled “Additive Manufacturing Feasibility Study & Technology Demonstration,” the EDA has commissioned Fundación Prodintec, a Spain-based technology center, and MBDA FR, a European missile manufacturer.

According to the EDA, its investigation, which is expected to have results by December 2017, will address “the entire spectrum of European defence and Additive Manufacturing (AM) stakeholders, at all level of defence and AM supply chains.” 3D printing technologies are expected to impact and enhance defense capabilities, notably through the increase of mobility, sustainability, and effect and protection.

The EDA has broken down its project into three main objectives. The first will consist of a “desktop study” that will situate additive manufacturing technologies within the specific context of defense, with the goal of identifying opportunities for the technology as well as challenges and factors that are currently limiting 3D printing’s integration and proliferation within the European defense system.

The second objective will include a tech demonstration of 3D printing, which will entail a simulated deployment scenario using additive manufacturing. The goal of this section, if it isn’t obvious, is to show how and to what degree 3D printing could be used and deployed to support certain military operations.

The third and final part of the AM project will take place once the first two are complete and will consist of presenting and exhibiting the results and conclusions from the study. The exhibition is expected to showcase 3D printing equipment, as well as objects and materials made using the technology. The stated goal of this final stage in the project is to promote 3D printing for defense, and to “raise military awareness” of the technologies, specifically in the areas of operations, logistic support, and platform maintenance.

In addition to the main parts of the project, the EDA has also launched a consultation process, which is inviting “competent stakeholders” (including Member States MoDs, the European Commission, the European Space Agency, AM related stakeholders, etc.) to participate in questionnaires and interviews about additive manufacturing technologies. The questionnaire, which is found online, is open until April 30, 2017.

Overall, the EDA’s study is hoping to highlight and raise awareness about the impact 3D printing technologies could have on Europe’s defense industry with the goal of increasing the integration of AM for defense applications. As the EDA states on its website, the project will not only help to inform the research and technology (R&T) community on 3D printing’s potentials, but will “create a synergy between the Materials R&T community and the operational staff, helping the R&T community to understand the requirements from the operational side.”

As mentioned, the additive manufacturing project is being undertaken in partnership with  Fundación Prodintec and MBDA FR, and is expected to release its results by the end of the year. The project was first mentioned at the EDA’s kick-off meeting in December 2016.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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