Additive manufacturing shines with promise. The discipline, also known as 3D printing, holds the promise of being the most powerful, efficient and versatile method of manufacturing, enabling a whole new world of products–complex shapes, compound geometries and compound materials that no designer could envision without it. It also holds the promise to speed logistics, reduce waste in materials and processes, and enable customization to a degree unimaginable with conventional manufacturing–and more.
“The Army wants to be at the forefront of this advancement in technology,” said Dr. Philip Perconti, director of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), at the opening of the new Advanced Manufacturing, Materials and Processes (AMMP) manufacturing innovation center in Harford County, Maryland, near Aberdeen Proving Ground, in October. Additive manufacturing, he continued, is at a pivotal stage in development, and the Army is basing strategic investments in agile manufacturing and material processing programs to leverage technology breakthroughs for rapid prototyping and development. He said that he foresees the mobile production of “replacement components to alleviate distance delays and provide performance enhancements and new capabilities through optimization of complex architectures and integrated functions.”