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.
The U.S. Department of Defense is looking at additive manufacturing technologies to rapidly prototype and build equipment components and increasingly, to potentially make replacement parts in the field.
While additive manufacturing, the ability to build plastic and metal parts by depositing a fine spray of material, has been used by the aerospace and defense sectors for some time, the capability is now becoming more portable. One such project is the U.S. Marine Corps’ X-Fab effort, which uses a shipping container loaded with compact additive manufacturing equipment that can be shipped anywhere in the world to make replacement parts.
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.
A movement is underway to inspire 3D printing or other additive manufacturing experts and hobbyists to produce N95-style masks, visors and other critical medical supplies across the United States and the globe.
The so-called Maker’s Mask is a mask created by Rory Larsen at the request of Kaiser Permanente in Seattle. Larsen created the mask from commercially available hobbyist-grade 3D printers and other common household materials. He intends to share his design freely and widely.