The U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s (ARL) Combat Capabilities Development Center has awarded 3D Systems a $15 million machine development contract. 3D Systems is being tasked with creating “the world’s largest, fastest, most precise metal 3D printer.” After a successful installation in the army the technology will be shared with leading aerospace and defense suppliers.
“The Army is increasing readiness by strengthening its relationships and interoperability with business partners, like 3D Systems, who advance warfighter requirements at the best value to the taxpayer,” commented Dr. Joseph South, ARL’s program manager for Science of Additive Manufacturing for Next Generation Munitions. “Up until now,” he adds, “powder bed laser 3D printers have been too small, too slow, and too imprecise to produce major ground combat subsystems at scale,” He continues, “Our goal is to tackle this issue head-on with the support of allies and partners who aid the army in executing security cooperation activities in support of common national interest, and who help enable new capabilities for critical national security supply chains.”
3D Systems currently has seven metal 3D printers, all using Direct Metal Printing (DMP) technology, the largest out of these seven is the DMP Factory 350, which has a maximum build envelope capacity of 275 x 275 x 380 mm (W x D x H). The ARL contract is requesting a metal printer with a build volume of 1000mm x 1000mm x 600mm for building parts around 3ft in length and depth and less than 2ft tall and include the ability to produce a minimum wall thickness of 100µm, and minimum layer thickness of 30µm. This development will be in cunjuntion with the Advanced Manufacturing, Materials, and Processes (AMMP) Program opened in October 2018.
Lisa Strama, president and CEO, NCMS, comments, “As the capstone project of the AMMP Program, [this project] will lead to critical breakthroughs for our members and partners, enhancing performance and speeding innovations to market.”
“Through this project,” comments Chuck Hull, co-founder and CTO at 3D Systems. “we’re looking forward to delivering a working manufacturing system like no other […]” He continues “ARL has already realized the power of AM to transform its operations. We look forward to collaborating with them to scale and expand these capabilities by delivering first-to-market processes, materials, and technologies.”
Jackson, Beau, et al. “ARL Awards 3D Systems $15M to Develop World’s Largest Metal 3D Printer.” 3D Printing Industry, 12 July 2019, 3dprintingindustry.com/news/arl-awards-3d-systems-15m-to-develop-worlds-largest-metal-3d-printer-158514/.