A innovative and promising defence-related project on Additive Manufacturing (AM, better known as 3D printing) was launched by the European Defence Agency at the kick-off meeting held on 21 December 2016.
The project’s objective is to assess the areas where AM can have a positive impact on defence capabilities and to demonstrate its feasibility.
The rise of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies has created a variety of possibilities and potential benefits for the defence community. The “Additive Manufacturing Feasibility Study & Technology Demonstration” was initiated in the framework of the CapTech Materials & Structures, within the EDA Research & Technology (R&T) domain. Raising awareness and promoting a better understanding of AM’s application and potential in different military contexts will contribute to its timely and effective implementation in defence specific areas.
The first activity carried out under this initiative will be a desktop study to place AM and its potential in a defence context. This work will summarise the state of the art ability of relevant AM technologies, identify existing R&T and manufacturing capabilities in Europe, and determine areas where further R&T activities should be carried out.
The second work strand is a technology demonstration of AM. To this end, a 3D printer will be deployed as part of the EDA Sponsored Airlift Exercise, to be held in Zaragoza (Spain). This represents a significant step in bridging the data gap on 3D printer performance in deployed conditions and will demonstrate the operational utility of these technologies.
At the end of the project, the results will be presented at an exhibition to high-ranking military staff, along with equipment and demonstrators, in order to raise awareness on the possible impact of AM in defence.
The project represents a clear example of how cross-fertilization of ideas from different domains, from R&T to operations, will enhance defence capabilities, especially when supporting deployed missions.
The EDA contractors, the research centre Fundación Prodintec, and the defence industry MBDA France, will work together to support the activities described, and help to create the synergies that will strengthen the links between research activities, industrial development, and the Armed Forces.
The project aims to demonstrate how R&T can contribute to strengthening European cooperation, defence capabilities and European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB).
The meeting was attended by EDA staff and consortium, European Commission, FOI (SE), FFI (NO), and ES MoD representatives.