Wednesday, July 8, 2020

U.S. Army accelerates the integration of additive manufacturing technologies

Recommended

U.S. approves UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter sale to Jordan for $23 mln

The U.S. government said Tuesday that it had approved a $23 million arms sale to the Government of Jordan. The U.S. State Department has approved...

Lithuania to receive 6 Blackhawk helicopters from United States

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on 6 July that the State Department has approved a possible sale to Lithuania of 6 UH-60M Black...

Israel request to buy 990 million gallons of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel from United States

The Government of Israel has requested to buy approximately 990 million gallons of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency...

U.S. State Department approves possible sale of 8 Osprey aircraft to Indonesia

The Pentagon confirmed Monday that the State Department has approved a possible sale to Indonesia of 8 MV-22 Block C Osprey aircraft. The potential deal...

Pentagon clears possible sale of Strykers to Argentina

The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of 27 M1126 Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles and related equipment for an estimated cost of...

The U.S. Army has announced that it accelerates the integration of additive manufacturing technologies to provide Soldiers with cutting-edge munitions.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the umbrella term for manufacturing processes that add materials layer by layer to create parts. AM technologies show numerous potentials in terms of rapid prototyping, tooling and direct manufacturing of functional parts and imply revolutionary benefits for the manufacturing industry.

Leaders at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory designated several research programs as essential for future Army force modernization capabilities. As one of the initiatives, integration of additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, will play a vital role in Army-unique applications.

“Additive manufacturing has opened the door for the creation of geometric designs never thought possible with traditional manufacturing methods,” said Dr. Jason Robinette, program manager of the laboratory’s Science of Additive Manufacturing for Munitions, or SAMM Essential Research Program. “The goal of this program is to take advantage of recent advances in additive manufacturing for developing next generation munitions.”

This program directly supports two of the Army’s modernization priorities, long-range precision fires and next generation combat vehicles. According to Army officials, long-range precision fires aims to neutralize enemy capabilities, while next generation combat vehicles pertains to land superiority in terms of firepower, speed and survivability.

3-D printers build parts in a layer-by-layer fashion and grant Army researchers precise control over the manufacturing process. Compared to the first generation 3-D printers, today’s printers produce large builds in a relatively short amount of time and can incorporate high performance polymers, composites, metals and ceramics as feedstock materials.

Army engineer David VanOosten (left) operates a polymer 3-D printer inside one of the additive manufacturing laboratories at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. (Photo Credit: Neil Adams)

According to Robinette, additive manufacturing has potential to improve the performance of munitions, electronic sensors and fuzes through enhancements of specific production techniques.

Printed gun propellant charges and rocket motors could help achieve higher muzzle velocity and longer range, while better metal feedstocks may increase munition penetration to augment lethality. Researchers said additive manufacturing could even improve the efficiency and durability of electronic sensors and fuzes so they take up less space within the munition and better withstand extreme environments.

“We targeted specific components of the munition that we believe will be most impactful for the Army and has the best potential for transition,” Robinette said.

The research effort consists of three core teams specializing in energetics, metals and hybrid additive manufacturing of munitions technologies, along with a design science team that brings together manufacturing and geometric design to uncover the underlying motive behind each project. In addition, the nature of the research inspires collaboration not just across different divisions and directorates in the laboratory’s Weapons and Materials Research and Sensors and Electronic Devices Directorates, but also with teams in industry, academia and other government agencies.

One of the major goals within this program is to address the issue of how 3-D printed items fail to retain the same mechanical properties as traditionally manufactured parts. Improvements to these features remain a top priority for the team to ensure that 3-D printed parts survive the rough conditions that future munitions will have to withstand.

“We have strategies in place to optimize feedstocks of metals, ceramics, composites and polymers for improved adhesion and microstructure to address these concerns,” Robinette said. “Once those problems are solved, we can start incorporating design tools in such a way to yield never-seen-before geometries for munition components that optimize performance.”

In the short term, the research team plans to first demonstrate the viability of additive manufacturing processes on a component level within the munition. This effort would entail better combustion for propellants, more mass efficient warheads and optimized circuit designs on conformal surfaces. Further down the line, the program intends to demonstrate the integration of different 3-D printing technologies at a system level.

“For instance, we would want to know whether we can print metal casings to help mechanically support rocket motors for high G survivability,” Robinette said. “Can we start printing fuzing schemes to better integrate with explosive charges for increased lethality?”

So far, Army researchers have realized numerous accomplishments in additive manufacturing that promise more exciting developments in the future, Robinette said.

“We’ve printed the highest strength steel in the world in a more cost-effective way while maintaining its properties compared to its cast properties,” Robinette said. “We’ve also printed the world’s first 3-D hybrid microcontroller circuit on a hemisphere that survived high G environments comparable to what is experienced by today’s munitions.”

The team plans to obtain critical design specifications during testing and fine-tune the process to achieve greater performance. Throughout their efforts, the Army modernizations priorities remain at the forefront of their endeavors.

“I think the potential is endless,” Robinette said. “But with this ERP, we’re focused on nearer-term goals to try to deliver a product and capability for the Army that first feeds into its modernization priorities.”

If you wish to report grammatical or factual errors within our news articles, you can let us know by using the online feedback form.

Executive Editor

TRENDING NOW

U.S. Army looks to buy Soviet-made special ammunition and weapon systems

The U.S. Army is buying an unspecified number of the Non-NATO standard ammunition and Soviet-era weapon systems, according to a government’s main contracting website...

U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress arrives in Guam

The U.S. Air Force has deployed B-52H Stratofortress nuclear-capable bomber to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam on July 4. The B-52H Stratofortress bomber, assigned to...

Israel request to buy 990 million gallons of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel from United States

The Government of Israel has requested to buy approximately 990 million gallons of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency...

U.S. Army to bring Artificial Intelligence to its combat vehicles

The U.S. Army wants its combat vehicles will drive itself, autonomously select and prioritize targets to ease Soldier burdens in multi-domain operations. To achieve...

Related News

Russian fighter jets again intercept U.S. spy plane as it flew close to Crimea

Russian SU-27 fighter aircraft scrambled on Wednesday to intercept U.S. Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint spy plane flying over the Black Sea. The Russian defense...

U.S. Army selects Kongsberg to develop wireless lethality for new gen robotic combat vehicles

The U.S. Army has selected Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace to provide a wireless fire control capability to support its future medium caliber lethality needs...

Pentagon clears possible sale of Strykers to Argentina

The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of 27 M1126 Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles and related equipment for an estimated cost of...

Raytheon receives $495 million for AMRAAM support

The U.S Department of Defense announced on Wednesday an agreement worth about $495 million for advanced medium range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) program support and...