In order to meet the Army’s mission statement to provide ready, prompt and sustained land dominance, Army Ground Vehicle System’s Center (GVSC) has selected MELD technology as one partner for the Jointless Hull project. Jointless Hull will provide the Army with the capability to 3D print an entire vehicle hull. Deliverables include two machines, a sub-section at GVSC with a build volume of 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet in height, and the full-size printer at Rock Island Arsenal with a build volume of 20 feet by 30 feet by 12 feet in height. These hybrid solid state printers use friction stir additive technology that will enable weight reduction, increase the speed of the design cycle and manufacturability, improve overall performance, and eliminate legacy supply chain issues of combat vehicles. Consideration for additive manufacturing process selection included possibilities for use of multiple metal materials, resulting product performance and capabilities for future design flexibility.
- Capability at this size has already attracted use cases in industry including fabrication and repair of entire aircraft wing structures, shipbuilding components, and spacecraft components such as fuel tanks.
- The US Army intends to share this technology across DOD and commercial sectors aiming to reduce schedule and costs associated with large castings and forgings.
- The ability to print (or repair) at this size brings the value proposition of additive manufacturing to products at a scale never seen before.