Five Eyes workshop explores 3D printing for deployed logistic operations

Additive Manufacturing Workshop
The Technical Cooperation Program held an Additive Manufacturing Workshop in Ottawa in April. Photo: DND

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The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP) hosted a workshop in Ottawa in April, exploring military applications of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing.

The workshop was organized with the collaboration of TTCP and Defence Research and Development Canada-Centre for Operational Research and Analysis (DRDC-CORA). TTCP is an international organization that collaborates in defence scientific and technical information exchange and shared research activities for Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand – members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.

The international standards organisation American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM International) defines additive manufacturing as a process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer.

Military forces are looking at additive manufacturing as potentially game changing. Within the field of logistics, its applications range from prototyping, rapid fabrication, repair and reclamation of worn or damaged items, through to end-item production at the point of need.

Image gallery

  • Three versions of a NASH compressor impeller
  • Replica small arms
  • CP140 landing gear

While additive manufacturing technology has existed for several decades, recent advances in the technology and its expanding applications increase its potential impact. TTCP member nations are making significant investments in developing additive manufacturing and repair capabilities, by conducting research and development in associated materials and manufacturing technologies, and by looking at potential applications to support logistic operations.

The key objectives of the workshop were to inform program management and military logistic subject matter experts of the current and future states of additive manufacturing technologies, consider their likely benefits and risks for logistics, and to explore potential military applications.

Drawing on the input of subject matter experts from the Canadian National Research Council, U.S. Army Research Lab, and the U.S. Research, Development and Engineering Command, along with representatives from TTCP member nations, the workshop explored user community perspectives and concerns.

The workshop concluded with the development of a number of key requirements to guide future technology development for, and potential integration in, military logistics operations.

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