3D Systems has been awarded a $15 million contract by the Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory, also known as ARL, to create the world's largest, fastest, most precise metal 3-D printer. This printer will revolutionize key supply chains associated with long-range munitions, next-generation combat vehicles, helicopters, and air and missile defense capabilities. 3D Systems and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) were awarded funding to create this revolutionary printer and will partner with ARL and the Advanced Manufacturing, Materials, and Processes (AMMP) Program to advance the leadership and innovation of the world's strongest military. For more information, see the IDTechEx report on 3D Printing of Metals 2019-2029.
According to the U.S. Army Additive Manufacturing Implementation Plan, the Army has been using additive manufacturing for two decades to refurbish worn parts and create custom tools. Once developed, the Army will leverage its manufacturing experience by placing the new large-scale systems in its depots and labs. Subsequently, 3D Systems and its partners plan to make the new 3-D printer technology available to leading aerospace and defense suppliers for development of futuristic Army platforms.
In each of these cases, the planned printer's unprecedented large scale and precision will enable more efficient design and production of long-term durable parts with reduced material usage, as well as faster time to market with parts going into the field. The printer's build envelope is planned to be 1000 mm x 1000 m x 600 mm, with ability to build minimum wall thickness of 100 µm and layer thickness of 30 µm. This is a significant increase over current large-scale metal 3-D printers with a build envelope of 500 mm x 500 mm x 500 mm.