The EDA conference and exhibition “Exploring Additive Manufacturing Impact in Defence Capabilities” successfully demonstrated the many possible applications additive manufacturing technologies (also known as 3D-printing) can bring to the defence sector. Around 200 representatives from government institutions, industry, academia as well as research and technology centres participated in this unique forum which was held in Gijón (Spain) on 12 September 2017.
The event was structured in three different activities (conference sessions, exhibition and technical visit) with the aim of raising military awareness of additive manufacturing (AM) technologies and their potential to improve military operations, logistic support or maintenance of platforms.
The conference session was opened by Mr. Rini Goos, Deputy Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, who highlighted “3D-printing can become a game changer for defence. It allows for easy customisation of small series and opens the possibility to manufacture even very complex parts - on site and on demand. This is especially important for military operations and their logistic support”. The talks were focused on three central themes: additive manufacturing expectations from EDA and the European Commission, current 3D-printing experiences of the European Ministries of Defence and industry developments in the AM field from companies specialised in the defence sector. The results of the EDA AM project were also presented, highlighting the Agency’s capacity to supporting a capability from R&T to development. A main conclusion of the conference is that in spite of the fact that some organisations have already earned significant experience on AM, non-technical factors (IPR, training, standardisation and certification, health and safety, etc.) currently still impose limitations for AM implementation in defence. As reinforced during the exhibition, only with the inputs provided by all the attendees and via the EDA consultation to identify impact of 3D-printing technologies in defence all these factors will be identified, and the way ahead towards the full implementation of AM in defence could be depicted.
Attendees also had access to an exhibition area where 3D-printed prototypes and real parts were on display. The EDA’s deployable AM facility was on display as well. Industry, academia and research centres from eight different European countries participated as exhibitors.
Finally, a visit to PRODINTEC advance manufacturing centre’s facilities (contractor at the EDA AM project) was performed. There, attendees had the opportunity to see AM equipment in operation and its possible applications in several sectors from defence to health, aerospace or construction.
The conference and exhibition were part of EDA’s “Additive Manufacturing Feasibility Study & Technology Demonstration” project which is expected to be finalised in December 2017. The project, initiated in the framework of the CapTech Materials & Structures within the EDA Research & Technology domain, is composed of three work strands: (i) a desktop study to place additive manufacturing and its potential in a defence context, (ii) a technology demonstration of the feasibility of deploying these technologies in support of a military operation, (iii) an exhibition to senior military staff concluded in the event celebrated at Gijón last 12th September.
Further information on 3D-printing at EDA