nexgenJanuary 27, 2020 at 1:03 pm #980
Faster development and reactivityThe ever-changing battlefields’ conditions and unforeseen counter-measures drive an iterative implementation of midcourse design adjustments.ALM can fundamentally impact the defence industrial base by speeding up the pace of moving from the prototype to the production. “Agile” production lines and shorter lead time for design updates will confer to the military technologies a strategic advantage.On-demand additive manufacturing improves the supply-chain reactivity and reduces the inventory, the obsolescence risks and overall costs.Scalability adds up to the reactivity. If a sudden need to double the production volume occurs, adding and plugging ALM machines quickly enables to ramp-up the capacity.
Suitable for small and customized productionThe defence industry has a strong need for small volumes of tailored components and spare parts for the systems damaged in operations.Small or “one-off” production is cheaper with ALM than with traditional processes. As there are no economies of scale on the production side, standardization is no longer an imperative.The simplicity of design as well is no longer required to comply with the economic constraints. ALM of highly complex parts is feasible, faster and needs less material which stimulates the creativity of engineers and performance of products.
Benefits of “near-the-battlefield” productionThe on-site military manufacturing is likely to expand in the long term because it opens new approaches to the tactical adaptation of equipment.In the context of military operations, ALM allows small-batch development of major platforms to be readily available to armed services. “Mobile Labs” are deployed in battle camps to manufacture quick parts for the near battlefield.If the technology matures more in the fields of multi-material deposition and adaptive material solutions, the parts could be printed in situ from available materials. Self-sufficiency is undoubtedly a tactical advantage during military operations (a way to reduce logistics’ costs).During wartime, it makes sense to bring ALM closer to the battlefield. By encouraging better association of soldiers’ battlefield experience with engineers’ technical expertise, ALM can really contribute to maintaining the supremacy of military equipment.After-war, ALM can greatly help local communities and ease the conduct of disaster relief or reconstruction missions by printing customized parts and maintain strategic equipment.
Combining 3D-printing and printable electronicsPrinting electronics into complex-shaped structures will allow UAS to be entirely additively manufactured on-site and quickly available on the war zone.Printing electronics while parts are additively manufactured aims to deeply change the way systems are manufactured and embedded. However, it is a nascent concept which barely applicable in the context of simple electronics and applications to harsh battleground environments are only foreseeable in the years or decades ahead.Among the military applications, the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – also known as “drones” – might benefit the most from printable electronics. They are low production volume units, prone to be customized to meet the missions’ requirements.
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