Posts Tagged development

Enhanced grenade lethality: On target even when enemy is concealed

Army engineers worked to integrate sensors and logic devices to scan and filter the environment and autonomously airburst the fuze in the ideal spot. (U.S. Army graphic by Chris Boston)

Army engineers work to integrate sensors and logic devices to scan and filter the environment and autonomously airburst the fuze in the ideal spot. (U.S. Army graphic by Chris Boston)

By Eric Kowal, ARDEC Public Affairs

How does the warfighter launch a grenade at the enemy and ensure it hits the target, especially when the enemy is in what is known as defilade, or concealment, behind natural or artificial obstacles?

Steven Gilbert and a team of about 10 engineers within the Joint Service Small Arms Program are trying to solve that counter-defilade puzzle, which also doubles the grenade’s lethality in the process.

Gilbert is a project officer with the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center. The engineering team is in the final phase of a project known as Small Arms Grenade Munitions, or SAGM.

The goal is to provide warfighters with the capability of shooting a 40mm low-velocity grenade out of an M203 or M320 rifle-mounted grenade launcher–with the certainty that if their target is hiding under cover or behind an object, damage will still be inflicted.

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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

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno talks to soldiers serving in Afghanistan with the 1st Infantry Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Sept. 19, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Gene Arnold)

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno talks to soldiers serving in Afghanistan with the 1st Infantry Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Sept. 19, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Gene Arnold)

“The capacity for physical destruction is fundamental to all other military capabilities and is the most basic building block for military operations. Army leaders organize, equip, train, and employ their formations for unmatched lethality under a wide range of conditions. The capability for the lawful, discriminate, and expert application of lethal force builds the foundation for effective operations.

                                                                                – Gen. Raymond Odierno, 38th Chief of Staff of the Army Marching Orders

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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Disruptive Technology: How the Army Research Laboratory will change the future

Michael Zoltoski leads lethality research at the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate within the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

Michael Zoltoski leads lethality research at the Weapons and Materials
Research Directorate within the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

By Michael Zoltoski, ARL

Scientists are unlocking the mysteries of power, energy and lethality in the search for new materials and technologies. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory conducts fundamental research, which endeavors to provide revolutionary capabilities to the Army of 2025 and beyond.

In the science of lethality and protection, we face challenges as we look into the future and wonder what it will be like. We make predictions that guide the research of the underlying science that will have a significant impact 20 to 30 years into the future.

Our mantra is “assured delivery, overwhelming effects.” Our research focuses on ballistic science and builds upon ARL’s legacy as the world’s foremost expert in interior, exterior and terminal ballistics.

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Investing in the Army’s future

The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or By David Mc Nall y, RDECOM Public Affairs HIMARS, fires a missile downrange. (U.S. Army photo)

The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, fires a missile downrange. (U.S. Army photo)

By David McNally
RDECOM Public Affairs

The U.S. Army vision for lethality science and technology investment is to enable overmatch in weapon systems for both offensive and defensive capabilities.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said attaining overmatch is critical to the Army of 2025.

“The Army has global responsibilities that require large technological advantages to prevail decisively in combat – ‘technological overmatch,’” Odierno wrote for the Army’s official blog in 2012. “Just as airmen and sailors seek supremacy in the air and on the seas, Soldiers must dominate their enemies on land. Modernizing, especially as end strength is reduced, is the key to ensuring that the Army’s dominance continues.”

To achieve that supremacy, Army researchers aggressively pursue technological overmatch.

“In lethality, overmatch means we can defeat the threat to maintain an advantage,” said Keith Jadus, acting director of the lethality portfolio for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology. “That means we have an advantage in every sense of the word. Overmatch is much bigger than lethality. We need to be able to see farther, reach farther and to ensure that our forces are protected outside the range and influence of the enemy.”

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Questions and answers with the Army’s senior noncommissioned officer

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III talks to Soldiers at an observation post at Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, April 16, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Alex Flynn)

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III talks to Soldiers at an observation post at Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, April 16, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Alex Flynn)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 2, 2014) — Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III gave an exclusive interview to Army Technology Magazine on the future of lethality.

Army Technology: Even with all the firepower and lethality science and technology can offer, what is the Army’s best weapon?

Chandler: The best weapon we have in the Army is still the U.S. Soldier. He or she is also the most precise weapon that the Army has because of a combination of skills, experience and knowledge. A combination of the technology and the Soldier makes us superior on the battlefield and that’s what makes the Army strong.

Army Technology: How have you seen lethality evolve during your Army career?

Chandler: I’m a tanker by background, and when I came into the Army in 1981, I was on an M60A3 Passive Tank, and then I got upgraded to an M60A3 Thermal. When I went to Fort Carson after three years in the Army, I was on a 1964 model year tank. There was the onset of M1 series, then the Bradley series. Digitization has been one of the most significant upgrades that we’ve made in Armor. I can recall being at Fort Hood in the 4th Infantry Division when Force XXI came about with its digitization. However, I believe we need to do a better job of exercising digitization in the Army – we’ve only scratched the surface. There’s much more that we can do.

If you look at something as simple as gunnery for Bradleys and tanks, we don’t force the system to use the full capabilities of the Bradley of Abrams to ensure we place accurate and timely fires to utilize the capabilities of the architecture that is in the systems.

Army Technology: Do you see the role of Armor changing as we focus on increasing Soldier and squad lethality?

Chandler: I think we have a pretty good platform now in the Armor community with the M1A2 SEP Version 2. We’re looking at a SEP Version 3, which provides even greater capabilities. I think the focus on the Soldier is correct because we have all of this technology in our Armor platforms where it’s easiest to carry and manipulate. But, in the Infantry Brigade Combat Team, we have a lot more work to enable the network within the individual warfighter.

I know we are working to give individual Soldiers some of the firepower formerly available only from Armor or crew-served weapons, but there will always be a need for Armor. Over the past 13+ years, we’ve become very good at counter-insurgency operations, but doctrine says we must also conduct unified land operations. We need to remain proficient as an Army with combined-arms maneuver – going out and fighting near-peer competitors with tanks, Bradleys and Artillery. We cannot assume that our next war will be fought the same way as the last one.

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Commentary: Future Lethality

Director's Corner: Dale A. Ormond, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command

Commentary by Dale A. Ormond
Director, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command

The Army of the future will have fewer Soldiers but will be more lethal. Technology will make that possible, and our scientists and engineers are – and have been – redefining the art of the possible to make this enabling technology a reality.

The Soldier and squad are the foundation of the Army. Our strategy is to build from the Soldier out, equipping our squads for tactical overmatch in all situations. They will connect to an integrated network to give them greater awareness and increased speed for decision-making beyond their adversaries, and they will operate in vehicles that make them more mobile, more lethal, and at the same time, better protected.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command is bringing solutions to these challenge at every point. From aviation to ground vehicles, our researchers and engineers at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., and Detroit Arsenal, Mich., are developing and testing the best technologies to make ground and air vehicles more protective of our Soldiers while providing increased efficiency, affordability and lethality.

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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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