3D Printing and the Army

Since my last post about 3D printing in the Navy garnered more likes than any other post to date, I figured we should continue the military trend and discuss how the Army uses the technology.

Actually, the Army has just as many uses for similar applications of 3D printing.

State-of-the-art 3D printers cut costs, turnaround time

Much like isolated ships having trouble accessing key components on the high seas, forward Army bases often find themselves weeks away from their supply chains.

Recently, a shortage of parts was delaying delivery of Harris radios. The radios required the installation of small dust caps prior to shipping to the customer. Finding and getting the part from a vendor could have taken weeks; so instead, Mechanical Engineer Eugene Haikes designed a 3-D model of the part and the depot printed 600 dust caps in 16 hours.

“If the depot wanted to produce the dust caps but didn’t have a rubber mold for them, we could have expected to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 for the mold,” said Mead. “Because Eugene was able to come up with the model, we were able to produce the caps for only a dollar apiece while trimming days, if not weeks, off of our anticipated delivery date.”

Just like the Navy, advantages don’t stop there, as 3D printing can create objects too complicated for traditional machining and casting processes.

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