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Metal 3D printers to produce ‘warfighters’ and weapons barrels

ASTRO America will manage a new U.S. Army initiative to build the world’s largest metal 3D printer to produce combat ground vehicle hulls. The announcement comes two weeks after Australian 3D printer manufacturer Titomic signed a deal with a Turkish company for the manufacture of weapons system barrels.

Humvee U S Army Astro America jointless hullproject
    Hulls are used in the construction of US Army ground vehicles such as Humvees

The Applied Science & Technology Research Organization, or ASTRO America, has been selected to manage a new U.S. Army initiative to develop and deliver a hull-scale tool using metal additive manufacturing technology. Known as the ‘Jointless Hull Project’ the effort aims to provide “improved production speeds, reduced production costs, reduced vehicle weight, greater vehicle performance and increased survivability.”

“The mission is to develop a large-scale tool capable of producing single, jointless combat vehicle hulls at a near net size of 30ft x 20ft x 12 ft in size,” said Larry “L.J” Holmes, principal investigator at ASTRO America. “Additive manufacturing at a massive scale holds the potential to transform the way vehicles are built for the military while reducing supply chain fragility.”

The Jointless Hull Project is being contracted through LIFT, a Detroit-based, US Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing institute. The Michigan-based U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center, Ground Vehicle System Center (DEVCOM GVSC) is directing the technical program. 

ASTRO said: “Monolithic hulls for combat vehicles have well-established advantages – especially in survivability and weight savings – but traditional manufacturing processes are not cost-effective or adaptable to full production, especially when multiple vehicle platforms are put into play.”

Aaron LaLonde, Additive Manufacturing SME, U.S. ARMY - DEVCOM GVSC, and the Army TPOC for the Jointless Hull Project, added: "Advanced manufacturing methods that are capable of enabling innovative part designs and concepts have tremendous value in achieving part, component, and ultimately vehicle concepts to provide warfighters and systems with leading performance advantages. This project will scale the benefits of metal additive manufacturing to a size range that will allow the benefits of the technology to be realized on larger system scale parts and enable next generation vehicle performance." 

ASTRO America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that “advances Defense R&D to transition meaningful manufacturing technology into production. We support U.S. Government agencies, driving transition of applied research to matured defense-related production. We are doing this through federally sponsored contracting, cooperative research, and other transactions.”

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                           Titomic's headquarters in Notting Hill, VIC

83108996 2227305134037157 9133764811308400640 nNotting Hill, Victoria-based metal 3D manufacturer Titomic Limited (ASX:TTT) last month signed a joint venture Heads of Agreement with Turkish company Repkon Machine and Tool Industry and Trade Inc to build a production facility in Australia for the manufacture of weapons system barrels designed by Repkon and manufactured using Titomic’s Kinetic Fusion Technology.

“This facility will substantially enhance Australian defence manufacturing capabilities and open up export opportunities for the supply of barrels globally,” Titomic said in a statement. “The facility will leverage the unique flow forming capabilities of Repkon and the rapid Titomic additive manufacturing TKF process to deliver high performance barrels.

“This state-of-the-art production facility will provide highly skilled job opportunities for advanced manufacturing as well as contribute to the national Industry 4.0 agenda for advanced manufacturing technologies. This industrial production ecosystem will combine advanced metals and materials with additive manufacturing, and robotics, creating a world first here in Australia.”

Norbert Schulze, Interim CEO of Titomic, said: “We are excited about the possibility of working with Repkon to manufacture barrels in Australia using our Kinetic Fusion Technology, enhancing the Australian manufacturing ecosystem, creating jobs and working together with our partners to provide best in class products.”

Ibrahim Kulekci, CEO of Repkon: “Titomic is a leading company with proven reliability in metal additive manufacturing so, having them as our joint venture partner, will be extremely beneficial in producing and selling barrels designed by Repkon.”

Titomic is an Australian public company specialising in industrial-scale metal additive manufacturing using its patented Titomic Kinetic Fusion (TKF) technology.