Questions and Answers with with Brig. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood

Brig. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, PEO Missiles and Space

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 2, 2014) — Brig. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, Program Executive Officer for Missiles and Space at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., gave an exclusive interview to Army Technology Magazine on the future of lethality.

What is the rationale for increasing firepower and lethality?

The U.S. Army is undergoing a transformation. After a decade of war, Soldiers and equipment are returning to an environment of declining budgets, drawdowns and a shift in operational focus. The Army is facing difficult decisions regarding force structure and modernization divestment. Unfortunately, the threat continues to increase in complexity as we reset, modernize and transform. These challenges are addressed by the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Force 2025 initiative. Force 2025 will prioritize those technologies that support a leaner, more expeditionary force that exceeds current capabilities, allowing for increased firepower and lethality. In this fiscally constrained environment, modernization decisions will be balanced with technology investments to ensure readiness through the transformation.

How do you see technology empowering Soldiers with greater lethality in the future?

PEO Missiles and Space develops, produces, fields and supports U.S. Army, Joint and Coalition missile systems for air and missile defense, direct and indirect fires and aviation platforms. Several of the weapon systems that we manage include Patriot, Javelin, TOW and Hellfire. There is no doubt that the technologies of our missile platforms will be improved through the development efforts of tomorrow. There are several key areas of critical technology development that will empower Soldiers with greater lethality.

Warhead and fuze integration must be developed further. We need single warheads that are advanced enough to be scalable on demand as the mission situation dictates. In the future, the warhead and fuze development must be combined for a single resultant that will provide flexibility while reducing the burden to the Soldier and increasing the effectiveness of the missile system.

Advanced navigation systems that will fuse the single or dual navigation systems of today must be pursued. We must be able to reach off-board the missile system and draw information from other navigation sources that can aid in longer distance engagements and develop more technologies to improve accurate targeting, especially in the end-game.

The development of propulsion energetics should be accelerated. As we reach out further in distance and trend to faster in speeds, we need to reduce the size and foot print of our propulsion systems. This can be done through material synthesis and burn rate enhancement. While we develop these technologies, weapons must remain compliant with insensitive munitions regulations in the ever changing environment of missile applications.

Speed and amount of processing capacity must be increased. In this area, we should develop processing that will increase precision acquisition, especially at the “end game” of the missile engagement. We need to enhance our auto-tracking capabilities. Increased processing must be tied to the next generations of Seeker technology. If we are to combine our current platforms into a single integrated effort, where we can use any sensor to see the threat and the best missile to engage the threat – we need increased ability to process data in real-time. It requires multi-mission platforms with enough processing power and speed to provide a “defense-in-depth” using networked air, ground, naval and space platforms. This will enhance the speed of decision, reduce the kill timeline and subsequently increase the overall probability of success.

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Future Fires: Integrating technology solutions

An M109A7 Paladin Integrated Management Howitzer fires rounds during a test at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. (U.S. Army photo by David Schacher)

An M109A7 Paladin Integrated Management Howitzer fires rounds during a test at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. (U.S. Army photo by David Schacher)

By David McNally
RDECOM Public Affairs

Army leaders are looking to the future force and seeking to be revolutionary in their thinking about integrating technology, according to current guidance from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno.

Department of Defense doctrine describes fires as the use of weapons systems “to create a specific lethal or nonlethal effect on a target. All fires are normally synchronized and integrated to achieve synergistic results.” – Joint Publication 3-09

Army researchers are exploring technology solutions to enable improved lethality and fires. Fire support includes mortars, field artillery, air defense artillery, naval and air-delivered weapons. Successful fire support destroys, neutralizes and suppresses enemy weapons, enemy formations or facilities, and fires.

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Chemical-biological researchers deliver results

Edgewood Chemical Biological Center engineers fielded the next-generation M50 mask to U.S. Soldiers stationed in Japan and Korea.

Edgewood Chemical Biological Center engineers fielded the next-generation M50 mask to U.S. Soldiers stationed in Japan and Korea.

Soldiers stay lethal in any environment

ECBC Public Affairs

Choking, watering eyes, blistering skin and convulsions are symptoms of imminent death from a chemical weapons attack. The lethality of such attacks, most recently in August 2013 in Syria, sends tremors across the globe.

For Soldiers, chemical weapons present a real danger on the battlefield that requires advanced technology to keep them safe. The Army is investing in science and technology to enable Soldiers to operate in a chemical-biological threat environment.

Scientists and researchers at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center work to provide better protective equipment, such as the iconic protective mask. As threats evolve, ECBC engineers fielded the next-generation M50 mask to Soldiers stationed in Japan and Korea. The Army is fielding more than 1 million of these masks across the Department of Defense.

“I noticed the difference between the M50 and the old M40 mask as soon as I put it on,” said Sgt. James Tuthill, a training noncommissioned officer stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. “I train Marines to be prepared for chemical, biological and radiological hot zones, and this mask provides them with better visibility, easier breathing and greater comfort wearing it. On top of all that, it just looks cool.”

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Night turns into day: Army researchers enable night lethality

In complete dark from significant standoff, Soldiers use medium wave infrared, or MWIR, technology to turn night into day. (U.S. Army photo)

In complete dark from significant standoff, Soldiers use medium wave infrared, or MWIR, technology to turn night into day. (U.S. Army photo)

By Kim Bell, CERDEC NVESD Public Affairs

In science fiction, technology problems are solved with the stroke of a writer’s pen. In reality, science and technology research takes time and a lot of effort.

“If you’ve seen the movie Predator, you’ve seen a perfect illustration of the process of lethality,” said Dr. Don Reago, director of the Night Vision Electronics Sensors Directorate of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center at Fort Belvoir, Va. “First, you must identify your target and if in fact it is a target, then you can move in and eliminate the threat.”

In the movie, the predator identifies targets using thermal technology and deducing whether or not they are carrying weapons.

“If potential targets were unarmed they went unharmed, much like how our warfighters operate at present,” Reago said. “Today, the Army’s goal is to improve situational awareness for Soldiers, resulting in increased survivability, decreased civilian casualties and accurate lethality when necessary.”

At NVESD, Army researchers are developing sensors, like the thermal sensors from Predator, as well as image intensification.

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Dr. Thomas Russell: Research vision for 3-D printing



YouTube DoDLive

interview with Dr. Thomas Russell

By Dr. Thomas Russell

Editor’s Note: Dr. Thomas Russell is director of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Adelphi, Md. Russell started his government career as a research scientist at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, White Oak Laboratory, Md. In 1994, he joined the Naval Research Laboratory where he worked in many leadership positions. In 2006, he moved to the U.S. Air Force where he became director of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He was responsible for the Air Force basic research program in aerospace, chemical and material sciences. Russell has led the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Since March 11, 2013. He holds a bachelor of science in chemistry from Muhlenberg College and a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Delaware. He has been a visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, an adjunct professor at the Washington State University Shock Dynamics Laboratory and a part-time faculty member at Montgomery College. His principal fields of interest are energetic materials, decomposition and combustion chemistry, detonation physics and chemistry, high-pressure chemistry and physics and spectroscopy. He entered the Senior Executive Service in 2006.

What is the current research strategy for additive manufacturing and 3-D printing?

I think the vision for the lab is to do research guided by a long-term vision. What we want to do is the same kind of thing we’re doing in material design, which is materials by design. In the case of additive manufacturing, it’s really about how do we do structures by design. It’s a voxel-by-voxel assembly of materials. What that would be in a 3-D structure is placing material location by location and building the fundamental building blocks to actually design structures. For ARL, a lot of it is about hybridization. If I’ve got to do hybrid materials, how do I actually improve strength, durability and things that are really directed more toward the Army’s specific applications? In the commercial world, people are doing similar things, but the Army application typically puts our materials in extreme environments. It’s a different set of material science where we’re looking toward solving problems.

What 3-D printing and additive manufacturing does is give us a unique approach to begin to design those materials from the foundations as opposed to using traditional processing techniques.

What is the potential of 3-D printing?

It’s an exciting area at the moment. There’s a lot of work you hear about in the press about plastics. A lot of people have actually talked about plastic guns and how you can design plastic guns, but there’s a lot more than that pushing the frontiers. People today are beginning to do manufacturing of biological materials. In the future through additive manufacturing, we may be able to produce a heart and do transplants. For Soldiers, there are some medical benefits too. Many of the injuries Soldiers receive in the field are not traditional. A lot of the medical community sees this as a new approach to medicine. We can 3-D scan injuries. We can replicate what those injuries are. Surgeons and medics can practice on those specific types of injuries and provide better service to the warfighter.

Logistically there are benefits. One of our biggest challenges in the Army is that there is a huge logistics burden. If we could forward-deploy manufacturing capabilities, we would have the opportunity to manufacture parts in-theater, or repair parts. This is not just about manufacturing a new part, it’s often about how we can repair something that has been damaged. We have the opportunity to do that in-theater and use local materials. It’s an exciting area. I don’t think we’ve realized its full potential.

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Presidential initiative to kick-start digital manufacturing

President Barack Obama meets Dr. Greg Harris from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. Harris is the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute program manager. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama meets Dr. Greg Harris from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. Harris is the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute program manager. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

By Ryan Keith

As additive and other advanced manufacturing technologies continue to emerge, the digital thread connecting design, engineering, manufacturing and maintenance systems evolves as well. This is especially true for the Department of Defense, where today’s two dimensional technical data packages are flat, and proprietary computer-aided designs can be inefficient and ineffective.

President Barack Obama announced the selection of the team to lead the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute Feb. 25, 2014, The public-private partnership is a consortium of 73 companies, universities, nonprofits, and research labs managed by UI Labs in Chicago.

Under the management of the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command, the institute will link promising information technologies, tools, standards, models, sensors, controls, practices and skills, and then transition these capabilities to the industrial base for full-scale application.

“DMDI will focus on using digital technology and data management to help manufacturers turn their ideas into real world products faster and cheaper than ever before,” Obama said.

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Medical researchers turn to 3-D printing for rapid prototypes

Mark Brown, chief of the Medical Prototype Development Laboratory, demonstrates a 3D-printed prototype of the Environmental Sentinel Biomonitor, which allows Soldiers in the field to monitor water for toxic chemicals. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

Mark Brown, chief of the Medical Prototype Development Laboratory, demonstrates a 3D-printed prototype of the Environmental Sentinel Biomonitor, which allows Soldiers in the field to monitor water for toxic chemicals. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

By Dan Lafontaine

To quickly design, fabricate and deliver prototypes of medical equipment to the field, the U.S. Army is employing futuristic 3D printing technologies.

Mark Brown, chief of the Medical Prototype Development Laboratory, said 3D printers have improved each step of his team’s work.

“3D printing speeds up the whole design process. The turnaround time has come down considerably,” he said. “A challenging issue we’ve had is communicating ideas. This definitely fills in that gap by being able to communicate ideas with our coworkers — biologists and chemists — so we can be on the same page in terms of product development.”

The lab’s mission is to build prototypes of field medical equipment that are simple to operate, yet functional. They must also be compact, lightweight, transportable, ruggedized and easy to assemble with no tools.

MPDL is part of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity.

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The future of 3-D printing

3-D modeling artist Ryan Gilley displays some of the products he designed and printed using advanced manufacturing techniques at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

3-D modeling artist Ryan Gilley displays some of the products he designed and printed using advanced manufacturing techniques at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

By David McNally, RDECOM Public Affairs

In past 30 years, 3-D printing has transformed from an immature technology with limited applications to being adopted by industry as an enabler for the next generation of products and systems.

In the next 10 to 15 years, experts expect the technology to revolutionize how commercial and defense products are designed, sourced and sustained.

“As the technology continues to mature, the Army must not only closely watch how industry is applying this game-changing manufacturing process, but also have an active role in shaping the technology, applications and reducing the barriers to implementation within Army systems,” said Andy Davis, Army Manufacturing Technology program manager. “The benefits of actively participating in the advancement of 3-D printing to the Army are great.”

Whether it is manufacturing parts on demand at the point of need, repair of high-value parts at a fraction of the cost and time, or realizing entirely new designs currently unobtainable through traditional manufacturing processes, the Army of the future will rely on this additive manufacturing process, he said.

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Army explores future of 3-D printing

The July/August 2014 issue of Army Technology Magazine focuses on the future of 3-D printing. Download the current issue by following the link on the homepage.

The July/August 2014 issue of Army Technology Magazine focuses on the future of 3-D printing. Download the current issue by following the link on the homepage.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (July 1, 2014) — One day, Soldiers will get critical repair parts at the point of need through innovative, reliable 3-D printing systems. This vision of the future will lift the logistics burden and lighten the load to provide more capabilities at less cost, according to Army researchers.

“Imagine the possibilities of three-dimensional printed textiles, metals, integrated electronics, biogenetic materials and even food,” said Dale A. Ormond, director, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. “Army researchers are exploring the frontiers of an exciting technology.”

3-D printing is the process of making something from stock materials, such as metal or plastic powder, by adding material in successive layers. It’s also known as additive manufacturing, or AM. In contrast, traditional manufacturing processes often work in the opposite way, by subtracting material through cutting, grinding, milling and other methods.

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Army invests in 3-D bioprinting to treat injured Soldiers

Research fellow Dr. Young Joon Seol works on a project to print experimental muscle tissue for reconstructive surgery.  (Photo courtesy Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

Research fellow Dr. Young Joon Seol works on a project to print experimental muscle tissue for reconstructive surgery. (Photo courtesy Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

By Dan Lafontaine

A team of scientists scans the surface of severely burned skin, creates a three-dimensional map of the wound with a laser, and then prints skin cells onto the patient using a 3-D bioprinter.

Medical specialists are developing methods to transition this research from the laboratory to clinical trials.

The U.S. Army is a significant proponent and investor in regenerative medicine and 3-D bioprinting, according to officials. Scientists are aiming to advance this new research area to help injured service members recover from the wounds of war.

Dr. Michael Romanko, who provides science and technology management support for the Tissue Injury and Regenerative Medicine Project Management Office with the U.S. Army Medical Material Development Activity, said that improvements in body armor, vehicle design and advanced medical care during the past decade led to Soldiers suffering injuries that would have caused fatalities in previous conflicts.

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Natick improves understanding with 3-D printed models

Steve Smith, a graphic designer at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Natick, Mass., poses with a 3-D and his creations. (U.S. Army photo by David Kamm)

Steve Smith, a graphic designer at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Natick, Mass., poses with a 3-D and his creations. (U.S. Army photo by David Kamm)

By Jane Benson

Welcome to Steve Smith’s world. It’s a place where big is small, small is big and anything is possible.

Smith works as a graphic designer at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. The 3-D-printer guru uses the medium to design, make and improve displays. He works closely with NSRDEC scientists and engineers to create something visual and tangible so the average person can garner a better understanding of NSRDEC-developed products and concepts.

“The models help (subject matter experts) explain themselves to their audience more clearly,” Smith said. “People have something they can pick up and see how it works. They can see what the physical science is behind it. It definitely helps a lot of people to see things in a concrete form.”

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Future Soldiers may wear 3-D printed garments, gear

Annette LaFleur, team leader for NSRDEC’s Design, Pattern and Prototype Team, uses a 2D-design program, but she is excited about the possibilities that 3D-printing capabilities hold for her industry and possibly for Soldiers. (U.S. Army photo by David Kamm)

Annette LaFleur, team leader for NSRDEC’s Design, Pattern and Prototype Team, uses a 2-D design program, but she is excited about the possibilities that 3-D printing capabilities hold for her industry and possibly for Soldiers. (U.S. Army photo by David Kamm)

By Jane Benson

Researchers at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center wear many hats and create many products.

“We cover a range of items: field clothing, combat clothing, dress clothing, chem-bio protection, body-armor systems, gloves, hats, helmet covers and experimental garments using new textiles,” said Annette LaFleur, Design, Pattern and Prototype team leader.

The team uses a 2-D design program, and LaFleur is excited about the possibilities that 3-D printing capabilities hold for her industry, in general, and possibly for Soldiers.

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Natick puts rapid in prototyping

Natick engineers use 3-D printed prototypes to perfect Soldier equipment, including the pack frame for the Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment system and fabric attachments for the pack. (U.S. Army photo by David Kamm)

Natick engineers use 3-D printed prototypes to perfect Soldier equipment, including the pack frame for the Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment system and fabric attachments for the pack. (U.S. Army photo by David Kamm)

By Jane Benson

Army engineers are working to create 3-D solid models and prototypes from computer-aided design data. These prototypes enable researchers to evaluate and detect component and system design problems before fabrication.

The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center Computer-aided Design and Rapid Prototyping Laboratory uses an additive manufacturing process of selective laser sintering, known as SLS. The printer relies on lasers to sinter, or melt, powdered, nylon materials layer upon layer into a prototype.

Over the years, researchers have created numerous prototypes and product components. NSRDEC engineers created prototypes for the pack frame of the Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment system and fabric attachments for the MOLLE pack itself. Engineers also created a battery case, as well as the individual electronic components contained in the case, which were later tested and used in the field.

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Chow from a 3-D printer? Natick researchers are working on it

Natick food technologists already believe they serve up the best food science can offer. Now they are working to incorporate 3-D printing technology into foods for the warfighter. (U.S. Army Photo by David Kamm)

Natick food technologists already believe they serve up the best food science can offer. Now they are working to incorporate 3-D printing technology into foods for the warfighter. (U.S. Army Photo by David Kamm)

By Jane Benson

Army researchers are investigating ways to incorporate 3-D printing technology into producing food for Soldiers.

The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Lauren Oleksyk is a food technologist investigating 3-D applications for food processing and product development. She leads a research team within the Combat Feeding Directorate.

“The mission of CFD’s Food Processing, Engineering and Technology team is to advance novel food technologies,” Oleksyk said. “The technologies may or may not originate at NSRDEC, but we will advance them as needed to make them suitable for military field feeding needs. We will do what we can to make them suitable for both military and commercial applications.”

On a recent visit to the nearby the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, NSRDEC food technologist Mary Scerra met with experts to discuss the feasibility and applications of using 3-D printing to produce innovative military rations.

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3-D printers cut costs, turnaround time for Army depots

Engineering Tech Mikael Mead of Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa., removes a small production run of finished lens covers from the printing tray of a PolyJet 3-D printer. Three-dimensional printers produce parts out of plastic and other durable materials. (Photo by Tony Medici)

Engineering Tech Mikael Mead of Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa., removes a small production run of finished lens covers from the printing tray of a PolyJet 3-D printer. Three-dimensional printers produce parts out of plastic and other durable materials. (Photo by Tony Medici)

By Justin Eimers

Engineers and technicians at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Tobyanna, Pa., use a highly innovative, cutting-edge fabrication process to significantly cut costs and reduce turnaround time.

The depot’s additive manufacturing process uses two 3-D printers to produce parts out of plastic and other durable materials. Unlike traditional design methods where a part is made from a block of material and the excess is discarded, additive manufacturing uses only material necessary for the part, saving money and minimizing waste.

Corey Sheakoski, electronics engineer in the Production Engineering Directorate’s Mission Software Branch, said the benefits and potential of this process are nearly unlimited.

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Chemical-biological center builds additive manufacturing partnerships

Maryland Del. Mary-Dulany James and James Richardson, Harford County Office of Economic Development, tour Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s Rapid Technologies Branch,and learn about additive manufacturing from Brad Ruprecht (left), ECBC Technical Director Joseph Wienand and branch chief Rick Moore March 10, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

Maryland Del. Mary-Dulany James and James Richardson, Harford County Office of Economic Development, tour Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s Rapid Technologies Branch,and learn about additive manufacturing from Brad Ruprecht (left), ECBC Technical Director Joseph Wienand and branch chief Rick Moore March 10, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

By ECBC Communications

Additive manufacturing continues to generate a buzz across the nation, while sparking the economy with new design and manufacturing techniques.

The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is one of a handful of government organizations working with additive manufacturing to provide concept-to-product warfighter solutions faster and for less money.

“We’ve had 3-D printing and 3-D laser scanning capabilities here since the mid-1990s,” said Rick Moore, branch chief of ECBC’s Rapid Technologies and Inspection Branch. “These capabilities help us get equipment in the hands of the warfighter more quickly. It also provides access for other engineering and science groups to design products with multiple design iterations or changes before fully investing critical funds into full production of that item.”

Additive manufacturing is the process of making a three-dimensional solid object of nearly any shape from a digital model. Having this capability has increased the speed of collaboration and innovation as designers work with partners to deliver products to the warfighter or bring them to market.

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Getting to right faster: 3-D printing fosters rapid prototyping

The U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force containerized and deployed two engineering hubs to Afghanistan; each Ex Lab contains a 3-D printer. (U.S. Army Photo)

The U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force containerized and deployed two engineering hubs to Afghanistan; each Ex Lab contains a 3-D printer. (U.S. Army Photo)

By Master Sgt. Adam Ascipiadis

Combat frequently presents unexpected challenges, demanding rapid solutions. When faced with unique problems, Soldiers often devise quick fixes out of readily available materials. Whether minor changes to procedures or small modifications to equipment, adaptation routinely occurs at the tactical level on the battlefield.

Additive manufacturing, an evolving technology to create 3-D objects by printing layer-upon-layer of thin material, demonstrates the potential to empower such Soldier innovation and foster frontline agility. One organization, the U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, known as REF, found a practical way for deployed units to take advantage of additive manufacturing technology in theater.

Expeditionary Problem Solving

As part of its mission to equip, insert and assess emerging technologies and rapidly address capability shortfalls, the REF deploys small teams of Soldiers and civilian engineers to forward locations. These teams interface with deployed units, canvass the battlefield for emerging requirements, facilitate solutions and oversee REF products in theater. Before 2012, teams created solutions for Soldiers in workshops located on large forward operating bases; however, engineers faced a limitation. Each hour spent traveling to units in remote locations represented lost design and engineering time.

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DARPA seeks advanced manufacturing standards

Researchers create a rotor preform build using the Sciaky Directed Electron Beam Deposition Process at the Center for Innovative Materials processing through Direct Digital Deposition at Penn State. The initial build plate is 30 inches by 30 inches.

Researchers create a rotor preform build using the Sciaky Directed Electron Beam Deposition Process at the Center for Innovative Materials processing through Direct Digital Deposition at Penn State. The initial build plate is 30 inches by
30 inches. (U.S. Army photo)

By David McNally

Since the early 1970s, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, has been making investments to jump-­start additive manufacturing. However, rapid adoption of advanced manufacturing techniques continues to face steep barriers as the industry seeks confidence that critical parts will perform as predicted. This led DARPA to focus on the issue of how to ensure that the technology meets the technical expectations of the marketplace.

“We looked at setting up the Open Manufacturing program to see if we could build more confidence in these manufacturing technologies so that we can actually realize their potential,” said Michael “Mick” Maher, DARPA Open Manufacturing program manager.

Maher said metallic parts created through additive manufacturing, known as AM, have typically been used for rapid prototyping, not for the actual manufacturing of products.

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Scientists break new ground with 3-D printing composites

Army researchers are conducting case studies to optimize the processing parameters for different  material depositions using its customized 3-D printer.  Researchers like Ricardo Rodriguez hope to someday print large items like a Soldier's helmet with sensing capabilities embedded in hybrid materials, a potential solution they expect to optimize Soldier capabilities while reducing weight. (Photo by Doug LaFon, ARL)

Army researchers are conducting case studies to optimize the processing
parameters for different material depositions using its customized 3-D printer. Researchers like Ricardo Rodriguez hope to someday print large items like a Soldier’s helmet with sensing capabilities embedded in hybrid materials, a potential solution they expect to optimize Soldier capabilities while reducing weight. (Photo by Doug LaFon, ARL)

tJAE

When Army research and development investments in additive manufacturing pay off, future warriors who need hard-to-get devices, such as unmanned aerial vehicles or medical devices, may be able to print them on the spot.

Scientists from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory are searching for materials and technology to create multifunctionality. Larry R. “LJ” Holmes is the principal investigator for the lab’s additive manufacturing material and technology development.

“DoD can’t afford to wait for commercial industry to create this capability. Industry doesn’t inherently understand our specific needs without ARL research informing them,” Holmes said.

Holmes received a patent for a novel additive manufacturing technology used to create micro-composites, which can be tailored for specific end-use applications that require high-strength lightweight materials. The Field-Aided Laminar Composite, or FALCom process. Holmes worked in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison to address the defense science and technology community’s need for agile manufacturing of systems.

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3-D printed metals may transform Army logistics

James Zunino, Picatinny Materials Engineer, displays an object that was created by an additive printing process. 3-D printing gives engineers the flexibility to quickly print items of various shapes, materials and structure.

James Zunino, Picatinny Materials Engineer, displays an object that was created by an additive printing process. 3-D printing gives engineers the flexibility to quickly print items of various shapes, materials and structure.

By Timothy Rider

A Soldier at a forward operating base needs the proper form to recommend an award for a fellow Soldier. He goes online, opens a form, fills in the blanks and hits “PRINT.”

Another Soldier at a FOB needs a part for a weapon trigger assembly. Spare parts are not in storage. He goes online, opens the computer-aided design, or CAD, file for the trigger assembly and hits “PRINT.”

Not to quibble, but James Zunino, a materials engineer for the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, would say that printing gun parts is no problem; it’s just not possible to print qualified gun parts to military standards…yet.

“We’ve made a lot of parts and prototypes,” Zunino said during a discussion about printed metal parts. But none of the parts have undergone a rigorous process to determine whether they were suitable to replace actual weapons parts.

“In theory, if you have a certified operator, certified materials and a certified printer, you can make qualified parts,” Zunino said.

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