AM for Defense Industry

Defense industry: opportunities in the promising AM-market

The global defense market is one of the promising markets for additive manufacturing. AM will become a mainstream manufacturing technology over the next decade. With a predicted average growth of more than 20 percent per annum, the defense industry offers great opportunities both for OEM’ers, software developers and material providers as well as suppliers and contract manufacturers.

The Australian army announced at the beginning of this year to invest 1.5 million Australian dollars in a pilot with the SPEE3D AM-technology. The aim is to investigate the possibilities of printing parts both at the barracks and during missions on location. The WarpSPEE3D is a special version of the Australian metal printer developed for defense applications. Meanwhile, 1st CSSB commander Lieutenant Colonel Kane Wright and his team has completed the first field test with this Australian 3D metal printer: “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”, he says about the first trials in the Australian bush.

How a billion-dollar market will change the defense supply chain

Do you want to know more about the AM-opportunities in the defense industry and how you can benefit from the predicted growth, attend the Virtual Additive Manufacturing for Defense Conference, an in-depth series about AM for Defense industry. The first online conference is October 27th. You can find more about the first session below this article

Supply chain issues

With this, the Australian officer cites one of the reasons why Departments of Defense around the world have been exploring the potential of 3D printing for years. Local production, even on the battlefield, is important to the land forces but just as important to the navy. Imagine having your own factory on board for repair purposes. The Air Force also sees opportunities: weight reduction is just as important here as it is in civil aviation, perhaps for other reasons. And distributed manufacturing is also for airforces a promising solution. So, there are different reasons, but distributed manufacturing is one of the most important ones.

The Australian army has tested the Warspee3D 3D metal printer in the past several months at different locations, also in the bush.

AM lowers the entry cost for manufacturers

In the Deloitte Press report 3D opportunity in the Department of Defense co-author and former Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Louis says that additive manufacturing has the potential to reduce the capital required to reach a minimum efficient scale for production, thus lowering the entry cost for manufacturing. It also influences the scope of what a factory can manufacture. These two remarks show how the supply chain can be hit by additive manufacturing. In the 4th scenario that Louis outlines in his report, AM in the MRO business will lead to new service models, which will lead to significant changes in the AM supply chain.

Spare-part business German Bundeswehr

Actually a team of researchers of the Bundeswehr University in Munich (Germany), has developed a methodology for the design and manufacturing of digital spare parts using AM in decentralized facilities. The re-design of the spare parts is tackled by giving design considerations based on agile hardware development practices to improve the quality of the spare parts and reduce the lead time.

Growth to a multi-billion-dollar market

On demand is becoming more important for the army. Chris Huskamp, Senior Business Unit Manager Additive Manufacturing at Jabil, puts it in a blogpost like this:  short supply chains and fast delivery can make the difference between losing and winning. Additive manufacturing ensures shorter and more flexible supply chains; through function integration, an easier Bill of Materials and by manufacturing the parts close to where they are needed. Jabil, one of the key suppliers in the US aerospace and defense industry joint in 2019 Dimensional Research for an online survey to more than 200 decisionmakers in this industry. A vast majority of them is involved in military aerospace.

AM for Defense market will grow by more than five times

In this survey 51% of the participants expects that in the next two to five years, the company’s use of 3D printing will double. 36% even predicts an increase of five times or more. Prototyping is still the common application of 3D printing, but repair (44%), R&D (43%) and production of parts (39%) illustrate that 3D printing of additive manufacturing is more than just prototyping. Another conclusion is that 36% of the participants plans to invest the next 5 years in additive manufacturing and for 44% of them supply chain applications and integrations is where they will invest their money.

One of the suppliers to the US Airforce has invested in a PCB printer of Nano Dimension for printing electronics.

US stays ahead of Europe

MarketsandMarkets, an international market research organization, predicts growth of the defense segment in the AM industry to $4.76 billion by 2023. Market Forecast’s researchers are even looking further ahead, forecasting a market size of $7.08 billion by 2028 (from $1,36 billion in 2020). Nearly three-quarters of the value of the total AM market in 2019, would then be accounted for by just the defense industry. Market Forecast expects that the US will become the biggest market, followed by Europe.

Are you interested in AM for Defense? Join us at the online conference. In the first session on 27th of October we focus on AM as a solution for makeling logistics in defense easier

  • You will learn from Stephan Wildenberg, (Staff officer Land Maintenance Initiative Dutch Army) and Tibor van Melsem Kocsis (Founder and CEO of DiManEx) how they cooperated to identify the best suitable parts to digitize the inventory, in order to make logistics operations in the army less complex. DiManEx also supported the Dutch army building an AM supplier network.
  • Michel Honoré, Project Manager, R&D Laser AM and Safety, FORCE Technology, Denmark, will focusses on metal additive manufacturing for defense applications
  • Finally, the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) takes a deep dive in certification. 3D printing parts sounds quite easy, but how do you take care of certification of parts and processes as the defense industry usually does?

In the second session on November 3rd you hear inside information about the pilot with the WarSpee3D, you get to learn about Fused Filament Fabrication for defense application and we show you how the Bundeswehr is using AM. The last session will be held November 11th.

For more information and registration, click here

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