Optimizing Facilities to Ensure Reliability and Maintainability of Large Metal 3D Printers – Phase II

NCMS Project #: 142155

Problem: Commercial companies across the automotive, aviation, ship building, farming, and construction industries require 3D Additive Manufacturing (AM) printers of all sizes and types to manufacture or repair mechanical parts needed to maintain and sustain their products and equipment.  Metal 3D printing has made impressive strides in the last few years.  Commercial companies are increasing their investments in this advanced technology for highly complex, industrial applications.  Maintaining these systems so they perform properly and last as long as possible remains critical for companies to maximize the return on investment of these unique AM machines.  Very few facilities employ support personnel who can be dedicated to managing new equipment installation projects for advanced technologies in medical and manufacturing equipment.  There is also a great deal to consider when purchasing new capital equipment items as well as the costs and risks to support enlarging and expanding facilities.  A careful analysis of the technical challenges, equipment procurement, facility capabilities and risks, and project execution is critical to ensure success.

Benefit: Collectively, the project tasks will demonstrate an effective process for evaluating a facility’s capacity for accommodating unique equipment, such as large 3D printing equipment and other advanced manufacturing technologies.  Critical data and lessons learned captured from this initiative can be transitioned to other commercial and military organizations executing similar facility optimization projects.

Solution/Approach: Phase II represents an advancement of the successes from the initial effort, to further determine and demonstrate facility requirements and processes needed to adequately support advanced 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing equipment and technologies.  Pilot modifications to the selected facility will be completed after confirming the subsection tool and other advanced manufacturing equipment specifications, equipment and facility maintenance and sustainment requirements, and the desired layout for various additive and advanced manufacturing processes.  In addition, determining and documenting proper power, plumbing and ventilation modifications that are performed in accordance with equipment requirements and local building codes and safety standards will be completed and demonstrated.

Impact on Warfighter:

  • Enhance warfighter readiness 
  • Increase automated processes and workforce flexibility  
  • Improve equipment performance and minimize repair times 
  • Reduce maintenance and sustainment costs 

DOD Participation:

  • U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) 
  • Rock Island Arsenal 

Industry Participation:

  • Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)
  • NCMS

Benefit Area(s):

  • Cost savings
  • Repair turn-around time
  • Maintenance avoidance and reliability
  • Positive environmental impact
  • Safety
  • Improved readiness
  • Reliability improvement

Focus Area:

  • Advanced/additive manufacturing

Final Report