Australian Army 3D print metal parts in the bush
The Australian Army successfully carried out the first field test with the 3D metal printer from SPEE3D. During an exercise in the northern part of Australia, the army installed a WarpSPEE3D metal printer in the bush and within half an hour they could start printing 3D parts.
The Australian Army announced at the beginning of this year to invest 1.5 million Australian dollars in a pilot with the SPEE3D technology. The aim is to investigate the possibilities of printing parts both at the barracks and on location during exercises. The WarpSPEE3D is a special version of the Australian metal printer, which uses kinetic energy to melt the metal powder.
Half hour after unloading 3D printing
The3D metal printer uses patented cold spray technology. It can print parts up to 40 kilograms 3D in a record speed of 100 grams per minute. The maximum dimensions of the parts are ø 1m x 0.7m. Both copper and aluminium are available as materials. In June SPEE3D delivered the machine to the army base in Darwin. A week later, the soldiers of the 1st Combat Service Support Battalion (1 CSSB) placed the printer on a trailer and took it to an exercise in Mount Bundy, 120 km away. Here they moved the machine several times to another location in the field and restarted it. Each time they managed to start the first buildjob within half an hour.
Milestone for SPEE3D
The fact that Spee3D uses kinetic energy instead of a laser source, like many other manufacturers, is perhaps the main reason why the 3D metal printer is operational at another location within half an hour. One is not dependent on high power lasers and gases. Byron Kennedy, CEO of SPEE3D, says about the successful exercise: “The first field deployment of WarpSPEE3D is an important milestone. Although our equipment was initially designed for industrial use, this test has shown that our equipment is in fact very robust and can withstand harsh conditions and rough handling. We look forward to future exercises and continue to learn how to best serve the Australian Army and Defence industry”. The Australian company is working with the Advanced Manufacturing Alliance (AMA) and Charles Darwin University in the Army programma. The goal is to increase the employability of the Army by 3D printing spare parts on site during operations.
Local production of spare parts
1 CSSB commander Lieutenant Colonel Kane Wright is excited about the results of the field test. “The ability to print for repairs in an environment like this has the potential to significantly reduce our footprint and repair damaged equipment – on site – to bring us back to our top priority.”
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