James L. Zunino, Materials Engineer, US Army ARDEC
Experts predict that in the next 10 to 15 years, Additive Manufacturing will revolutionize how industry and the Department of Defense (DoD) design, develop, and manufacture defense products and weapon systems. Additive Manufacturing, including integrated printed and flexible electronics, is revolutionizing how industry and DOD design, develop, and manufacture products and weapon systems. Recent advances have enabled the U.S. Army to design and develop numerous new processes and applications for munitions, Soldiers and weapons systems. By combining multiple AM technologies together (i.e. Metals, Plastics, Electronics, Energetics, etc.) the DOD is able to fabricate devices and systems previously unachievable. By integrating printed electronics, energetics, and power sources into/onto 3D structures, new solutions and applications can be realized to enhance our Warfighters’ capabilities.
There are several key challenges in bring printed electronic products to commercial and military markets. Unique military considerations for AM & PE, as well as the current technology barriers will be discussed. Applications and highlighted progress of several DOD and Government programs will be addressed, including printed electronics, hybrid devices, materials, and integration of printed electronics & 3D printed structures for initiation systems, antennas, gun safeties, wearables, prognostics & diagnostics, fuzes, and more.