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How 3D Printing 2.0 is Playing a Pivotal Role in Australia’s Defence Capability

The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic leaves no industry untouched. Defence is no exception, with supply chain issues affecting the armed forces in the same way negative manner as everyone else. 

Taking advantage of innovative solutions is one way that such challenges can be overcome. One example has been showcased during a recent trial undertaken by the Australian Army. Additive manufacturing, the next level of 3D printing, has taken a surprising role in strengthening the country’s sovereign capability for defence.

The Challenge

When it comes to army needs, many vital items are constructed from metal. This includes mission-critical equipment, such as vehicles and tools. Any disruption to supply presents obvious issues – especially in times of conflict. The aim of the experiment was to deem if it was possible to create a viable alternative to the laborious (and subject to delay) regular supply chain for metal parts and replace this with a field-based solution.

Custom Solution by SPEE3D

The trial involved an advanced digitalised option of the 3D manufacturing process, known as Additive Manufacturing. The part in question was the metal element of a specialised multitool, something that it was already know could be duplicated by traditional 3D metal printing.

Australian company, SPEE3D, took on the challenge, utilising a system called Fusion 360. This is a cloud-based 3D modelling CAD, CAM, CAE and PCB software platform that can be used at source. With minimal training, individuals can design, engineer and print metal products, ensuring they are fit for purpose.

In the case of the metal necessary for the multi tool in this trial, the results were nothing short of amazing. Not only could the part be produced in situ and be ready for use in less than an hour, but the material cost was only around $100. This represents a considerable cost saving and a process that’s up to 1,000 times faster than the traditional 3D metal printing model.

The Result

The impact of such a custom-made solution for Australian defence is profound:

  • Deploying the technology out in the field provides a virtually instant ability to replace metal equipment, without waiting for precious supplies to be delivered
  • Dramatically minimizing production costs
  • Negating the risk of supply chain delays
  • The ability to deploy the technology anywhere in the world
  • Reducing carbon footprint through local production 

Prior to this trial, 3D metal printing had been deemed too slow and expensive for the defence industry to consider utilising in the field. The results of the Fusion 360 trial show just how innovative advanced manufacturing solutions can be at combating historical issues.

While this trial evidenced the capabilities within the defence sector, the repercussions for all industries are extraordinary. It’s yet another example of how advancing technology is pushing the boundaries of what’s considered possible in every aspect of daily life. Every organisation has an obligation to determine the art of the possible. Indeed, a failure to do so will have severe repercussions in many ways.

From falling behind competitors to unnecessary carbon emissions, hesitancy to embrace technological advantages is something that all businesses must heed. Getting ahead of the game in today’s competitive marketplace isn’t simply about providing an outstanding product or service. It’s now equally important to bring it about in an advanced and sustainable manner. 

While Additive Manufacturing is a relatively new technology, it’s just one example of how custom-made solutions are proving to have game-changing consequences, no matter what the field.

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