On-demand part printing

The military and aerospace (mil/aero) community is excited about the prospect of producing critical components with the aid of three-dimensional (3D) printers. Additive manufacturing is the name ascribed to the trend, one which has been employed in a variety of industry verticals and is now being adopted by mil/aero organizations. The technology and materials have matured, and are turning heads in the mil/aero community.

Additive manufacturing is likely to be a pervasive technology, taking hold throughout the mil/aero market. The proposed benefits are promising, and the relevant applications numerous. In fact, mil/aero organizations and officials are particularly interested in employing additive manufacturing in remote locales, including the farthest reaches of space.

Additive manufacturing might mean the end of astronauts stranded in space, awaiting a much-needed part or tool and organizations back on Earth scrambling to deliver the critical component or instrument to space as soon as humanly possible. Imagine if astronauts had the ability to 3D print on-demand, in little time and low cost (especially when compared to a cargo-delivery mission), whenever they encountered a problem and needed a part, tool, or other object. No need to imagine, in fact; that capability is now a reality.

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Additive manufacturing and 3D printing are taking the mil/aero market by storm, and innovators on Earth are eager to deliver the capabilities to deployed soldiers, astronauts, and various other aerospace and defense entities—from schools to airlines and airports to aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facilities.

Will additive manufacturing make the practice of keeping large parts and components inventories a thing of the past? It’s a question this mil/aero geek ponders.

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Posted June 27th, 2014, by

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About J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

J. VanDomelen holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and myriad certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTia in varying facets of computer software, hardware, and network design and implementation. He has worked in the electronics industry for more than 12 years in varied fields, including advanced systems design of highly technical military and aerospace computer systems, semiconductor manufacturing, open source software development, hardware design, and rapid prototyping. J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

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[…] NASA officials partnered with industry to launch the 3D Printing in Zero-G Experiment and Technology Demonstration, with the goal of validating the additive manufacturing capabilities in zero-gravity. […]

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