Australian Army Teams with Spee3d to Trial AM for Supply-Chain Improvements

February 25, 2020

The Australian Army has kicked off a 12-month pilot trial of the new technology in partnership with Spee3d and Charles Darwin University (CDU), located in the northern Australian city of Darwin. The $1.5-million venture features training by 20 Darwin-based soldiers in advanced additive manufacturing (AM). The soldiers will be taught how to design and print parts using the Spee3d’s WarpSpee3d 3D metal printer. The ultimate goal of such trials: modernize and enhance the resilience of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF’s) supply chains, according to ADF officials.

WarpSpee3d, a large-format metal 3D printer, employs a nozzle to accelerate air to as much as Mach 3, into which metal powder is injected then deposited onto a substrate maneuvered by a six-axis robotic arm. The kinetic energy of particles hitting each other causes the powders to bind together, forming a high-density part with metallurgical properties superior to casting, according to Spee3d officials, who report that the process prints 100 to 1000 times faster than traditional AM technology.

“This partnership shows that we as an army are looking to the future and embracing advanced technologies to speed up our processes,” says Lt. Col. Kane Wright, commanding officer of the ADF’s 1st Combat Service Support Battalion, which provides the soldiers for this trial. “At maturity, we see AM becoming an essential enabler that will redefine how logistics is employed to support our dependencies on the future battlefield. (AM capability) will reduce the requirement to deploy with bulky holdings of multiple repair parts, hence increasing mobility and survivability and reducing time waiting for new parts to create greater resilience in the supply chain.”  

Ten-week initial training takes place at the university’s Casuarina, Australia, campus, with Wright noting that the Army will begin by trialing the production of non-safety-critical repair parts while leaning on industry experts to explore the full potential of the capability. 

The Royal Australian Navy launched a similar trial in November 2019 together with Spee3d and CDU, to streamline the maintenance of patrol vessels.

Industry-Related Terms: Additive manufacturing, Metal powder
View Glossary of 3D Metal Printing Terms

 

See also: SPEE3D

Technologies: Directed-Energy Systems

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