Stratasys Inc., Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is awarded a $20,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. This contract procures 25 F900 production 3D printer systems and initial support and sustainment to include technical support, installation, support equipment and ancillary equipment problem resolution, technical publication logistic support, original equipment manufacturer reach-back capability for software and hardware components, engineering investigations and corrective actions for system anomalies, and development of initial training for the supplied systems.
Additive manufacturing, also described as 3D printing, is opening up new pathways to production. While many of these are dead ends as economics and logistics limit some of the hoped-for applications, others offer the potential to be game changers in the manufacturing arena.
Printed body parts are taking shape in laboratories, but printed industrial parts may not always fit the bill. Issues such as reliability, integrity and longevity must be determined on a case-by-case basis as custom parts are devised and built.
Researchers recently announced that they can use a groundbreaking 4D-printing process to create material capable of morphing into the likeness of a human face, the most complex shape-shifting structure ever. The research may one day lead to advances in dynamic communications, soft electronics, smart fabrics, tissue engineering for medical purposes, robotics and an array of commercial applications.
Advanced manufacturing techniques could inject innovation into the defense industry, suggested Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.
“We have a problem with the industrial base, particularly for the defense industry,” Jette told the audience at the Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C. He added that the industrial base still conjures images of “large, smoking cauldrons of steel” because “that’s what we drove them to.”
Jette further noted that the industrial base “has some gaps in it because we haven’t been producing large equipment systems in a long time.”
Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy has approved a new policy on advanced manufacturing designed to help the Army secure a competitive edge against near-peer adversaries.