US Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31 (CLB), part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), are using 3D printing to make spare parts.
The 31st MEU is deployed with short notice as and when required. The nature of their mission means that it is often not possible to send replacement parts around the world, something that leads Sgt. Adrian Willis to say from the official US Marines site that “3D printing is definitely the future – it’s exactly the direction the Marine Corps needs to go.”
Facing Difficulties With 3D Printing
The Marine Corps prides itself on its self-reliance, making 3D printing parts a logical step during the mission.
CLB 31 uses 3D printing as a source of temporary parts, assisting marines facing difficulties such as failure of mechanical parts. When they are deployed, the battalion is able to bring 3D printers with them, which can be used to make parts when needed.
An F-35B fighter had a plastic bumper on the landing gear door during a MEU patrol this spring. Previously, the entire door assembly used to be replaced. With 3D printing the squadron just created a new bumper. The part was printed, approved for use, and blown up within days, which was not the case in the U.S.
In another case, the iRobot 310 small unmanned ground vehicle used by MEU’s Ordnance Disposal Team was fitted with a 3D printed lens cap to protect its delicate optics. The cap is still in use today.
time and cost savings
“While our supply personnel and logistics have done an excellent job getting us parts, being able to rapidly make our own parts is a huge advantage as it minimizes our footprint allowing us to ship or campaign.
The environment is made more agile. In this example we were able to team up with our partner unit, the CLB-31, to not only build a replacement faster but also save thousands of dollars in the process. ” – said Lieutenant Colonel Richard Rusnok of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, operatives of the F-35B.
US military is advancing 3D printing
The US Marine Corps is calling for greater adoption of 3D printing among its ranks. Captain Mark Blair, Operations Officer for Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, outlines an innovative approach to how 3D printing can be used to help service and maintain vehicles for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, the main maritime aviation unit on the US West Coast. will be done to help.
3D-printed soft robots simulating the flexibility of invertebrates such as octopuses are being developed by the University of Minnesota in collaboration with the US Army Research Laboratory.
UOM Professor Michael McAlpine said, “Our team begins investigating new methods for simulating the location of invertebrates, providing fundamental insights into the machinery of their soft distributed actuation circuitry that supports high bending speeds without skeletal support. allow.”
Practical hypersonic flight vehicles may be possible with 3D printed ceramic silicon oxycarbide. Last year, the US Marine Corps 3D printed a drone 200 times cheaper than the production version with the help of the Corps Next Generation Logistics Innovation Cell.