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Additive Excellence | Defense Contracting with Confidence

The value of working with qualified and experienced metal additive manufacturing equipment suppliers and part providers

Introduction

In January 2021, the US Department of Defense published the AM Strategy Report that outlines the military’s objective to further the utilization of additive manufacturing for mission-critical applications. Most notably, to modernize national defense systems, increase material readiness, and to enhance warfighter innovation. By integrating new technologies, processes and materials, the US military is prepared to redefine the next generation of advanced manufacturing and recommit to a permanent leadership position amongst its peers and adversaries. All military branches, government entities, civil protection agencies, suppliers and contract manufacturers are contemplating their approach to additive manufacturing and are left to consider, how can it benefit us?

Most military contractors and suppliers are equipped with conventional manufacturing technologies such as milling, turning, tooling, etc. While those technologies remain valuable for any machine shop, it’s important to consider how metal additive manufacturing can be complementary from a quality, speed and, in certain cases, cost perspective. The inherent benefit of metal additive manufacturing is the unique ability to design without limitation and embrace part complexity. This is a transformational shift for many, and it’s challenging to create a reasonable risk assessment without learning more or speaking with experts. 

How is metal AM being used in the military today? What is the best, low-risk way to evaluate which applications make the most sense for my business? And where can I find assistance?  The following article addresses these questions and more.

Metal AM | Military Applications

Additive manufacturing, commonly referred to as 3D printing or rapid prototyping, has been incredibly useful for many commercial, industrial and military applications since its inception during the 1980’s. The vast improvements to technologies, processes and materials have enabled this technology to go beyond prototyping and become a viable production tool. In particular, metal additive manufacturing has become wildly popular and is a major component to the next generation of smart manufacturing. Combined with artificial intelligence, machine learning, sensoring and automation technologies, metal AM is a key component to the factory of the future. How?

Modernize National Defense Systems | Agile Manufacturing

According to a survey conducted by Jabil in May 2019, additive manufacturing is used for a range of different applications within the military. While prototyping is obvious, R&D, bridge production and fixturing were among the major reasons for increased adoption. The military is embracing new technology to advance every piece of the product development lifecycle. Having an end-to-end and versatile solution, such as metal AM, enables the military to increase efficiency across multiple departments. 

  • Advance R&D to develop new applications and materials for supercritical components with improved chemical resistance properties, enhanced static dissipative qualities or other high-performance requirements.  
  • Build assembly line jigs and fixtures by eliminating the need for tooling.
  • Produce Low volume and customized parts for small batch items
  • Monitor and track parts for continuous improvement

Increase Material Readiness | On-Demand Production

For some industries, time is money. For the military, long lead times can have catastrophic consequences. Forward operating bases (FOBs) located across the planet are embracing additive manufacturing as a means to immediately produce parts. Instead of ordering parts from overseas, the military can digitally access a library of files, load the materials and press print.

  • Embrace the digital warehouse and enhance battlefield readiness
  • Reduce long lead times and logistical nightmares associated with the traditional supply chain
  • Operate Maintenance, Repair, Operations (MRO) and spare part replacement
  • Create a more sustainable process that reduces emissions and waste

Enhance Warfighter Innovation | Design for Additive Manufacturing

Defined by the ability to design and build parts that are otherwise impossible to produce with conventional processes, Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) provides unique benefits to the military. When it comes to new product development or even production parts, the advantages of DfAM can make a significant difference for critical applications.

  • Designing advanced prototypes and products with higher performance capabilities due to unique geometric characteristics
  • Lightweighting of brackets, frames, and other components to reduce fuel costs
  • Consolidating part production and eliminating the need for part assembly

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Qualified & Experienced 

The aerospace, defense, research and aviation industries overlap constantly due to their strict quality standards and certification guidelines. And for good reason. Because of that, it’s important for new metal AM adopters to consider the options and identify suppliers and providers who have experience working within this arena. Not all 3D printers are made equal. Furthermore, materials and processes can be tricky, so we highly recommend speaking with the experts.

3D Printed Parts, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan is an ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) registered contract manufacturer that offers end-to-end design and production services. They are familiar with countless military suppliers and direct government entities representing air, ground, sea and missile development departments. Decades of experience working with military procurement and advanced research laboratories justifies 3D Printed Parts as one of the leading metal additive manufacturing parts and equipment suppliers in the United States. Key offerings include:

  • Turnkey Design Services & Prototyping 
  • Bridge to Production Benefits
  • Low Volume Production 
  • Product Testing & Validation Services
  • Metal Additive Manufacturing Equipment Sales & Service
  • Excellent Customer Service & Procurement Experience

The US military is actively addressing the next generation of warfighter dominance and leadership with additive manufacturing. This requires a new way of thinking that relies on the expertise of those who have spent a lifetime dedicated to this particular technology. 3D Printed Parts has become a crucial partner for several military suppliers and has helped them secure new projects, extend others, and identify new ways to unleash metal AM designs for higher performance parts. 

“3D Printed Parts is a fully capable prototyping and production house for DoD applications,” says Mike McLean, General Manager at 3D Printed Parts. “Our equipment is state-of-the-art and our technical know-how is second-to-none. Your job is to develop components that accomplish the mission and ours is to provide additive excellence…together we can establish a permanent leadership position for your department, business, and US military industrialism.”

What Happens Next?

Navigating the metal additive manufacturing landscape is overwhelming and confusing. There are countless technologies and materials to consider and without first-hand access to this type of machinery, it’s impossible to determine what the right solution is for you. Furthermore, the last thing you want to do is make a massive capital equipment purchase for a machine that is either incapable of producing the parts you need or simply too expensive to operate. We recommend a low-risk approach by simply outsourcing the work and taking advantage of a service provider with decades of experience selling, servicing and printing parts on-demand. 

3D Printed Parts continues to penetrate the DoD market with excellent results. Currently, the company is investing more resources into cybersecurity measures that will open doors to new projects and opportunities for select military operations. This expands 3D Printed Parts position not only as a technology leader, but as an innovative partner willing to do whatever it takes to advance American military exceptionalism. 

Contact 3D Printed Parts today to advance your product development capabilities and embrace metal additive manufacturing. 

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