The Pentagon considers 3D printing to be a ‘game changer’, from parts to hypersonics.

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The military is experiencing a major revolution with the rise of additive manufacturing, according to a top Defense Department official. Keith DeVries, deputy director of the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Manufacturing Technology Program, explained in a Defense News webcast Wednesday how this technology is changing the game for the military.

DeVries stated that additive manufacturing has made tremendous strides in recent years and has opened up new possibilities for creating weapons and components. It has been particularly useful when designing new systems, allowing for rapid prototyping and iteration. Additionally, additive manufacturing has been used to create spare parts for aircraft and other systems, reducing the need to wait for replacement components from slow supply chains. In fact, repairs that used to take days or even weeks can now be completed overnight with the help of 3D printers.

But the benefits of additive manufacturing don’t stop there. It can also be used to quickly create new tools, which traditionally take a long time to arrive. Furthermore, the scale of objects that can be 3D printed is increasing, to the point where entire structures like houses can be built. DeVries emphasized that the Defense Department is taking note of these advancements and exploring ways to apply them.

One area where additive manufacturing shows great promise is in the development of hypersonic weapons. Complex chambers required for scramjet propulsion systems, for example, can be difficult to make using traditional methods. However, 3D printing allows manufacturers to create these components using high-temperature metals without the need for complex welds or brazing joints that require extensive testing. This technology enables the production of complex structures that would not be possible with subtractive manufacturing methods.

DeVries also emphasized the importance of balancing additive manufacturing with traditional manufacturing techniques such as casting and forging. He stressed that additive manufacturing should be used intentionally and in limited ways, as it is just one tool in the manufacturing toolkit. By leveraging additive manufacturing where it adds the most value, the military can continue to benefit from this game-changing technology.

In conclusion, additive manufacturing is transforming the military by enabling rapid prototyping, quick repairs, and the creation of complex structures. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the defense industry and greatly enhance the capabilities of our armed forces. As research and development continue, it will be exciting to see what new possibilities and advancements will emerge in the field of additive manufacturing for the military.

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