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Mobilized Large-Format Additive Manufacturing Bolsters Tactical Readiness in Defense Environments

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Conference Abstract: Introduction and Problem Statement
Traditional supply chain channels for replacement parts are unreliable and leave warfighters in potentially dangerous situations.

In recent years, advanced 3D printing capabilities have led to the testing and deployment of additive manufacturing in defense settings. These solutions brought the parts inventory closer to the frontlines but were stationary units not designed to be moved once installed, resulting in parts delivery delays to warfighters in contested environments. These systems are often limited to the production of small parts, which does not benefit a unit in need of a large component. Therefore, deficiencies still exist in utilizing additive manufacturing to improve delivery times, the factor of proximity to the end user, and the machine’s part-size production capability.

Proposed Solution Presentation
Mobile large-format AM machines can deliver new capabilities and support mission sustainment at speed and scale. Built inside standard shipping containers, these machines are transported through the existing logistics infrastructure and produce large metal parts onsite in any environment. Designed with additive and subtractive capabilities, these machines can produce high-tolerance interim parts within hours. This robust solution does not rely on physical tooling, an onsite parts inventory, or a stable and controlled environment. Rather, mobile AM machines are designed to successfully produce parts in the same environments in which warfighters operate.

Value and Benefits
The benefits of mobile large-format additive manufacturing include on-demand parts production near the end user; production of complex and obsolete parts; reduction of inventoried parts; reduction of equipment downtime and failures; and improvement of mission self-sufficiency and sustainment.

Mobile large-format additive manufacturing is the future of the military supply chain. Onsite, on-demand parts production meets warfighters where they are in the field. This reliable logistics capability is a game-changer in battle strategy and ensures that warfighters can be sustained and supported.