3D printing platform: make your own spare parts on location
A new database has been set up, enabling soldiers to print needed spare parts wherever they are, be it on base or abroad. This improves their combat readiness and simplifies storekeeping procedures.
Spare parts can take a long time to become available, and during foreign assignments, there is no guarantee that all required parts will be available in sufficient quantities. Getting hold of missing parts can be expensive and time-consuming, but so is comprehensive storekeeping for any eventuality.
The Bundeswehr Cyber Innovation Hub and the Bundeswehr Research Institute for Materials, Fuels and Lubricants are jointly trialling an online 3D printing platform. Soldiers will be able to access digital assembly kits from which they can produce missing parts themselves using a 3D printer close to their location. Besides uploading existing 3D blueprints to the platform, users can also create assembly kits for new models.
In addition to its practical value, the platform is also intended to create opportunities for the interactive exchange of new ideas and, as such, foster the communal aspect and innovative strength of 3D printing in the Bundeswehr.
The 3D printing portal will be made available through the Bundeswehr intranet, which members can access through conventional web browsers, such as Edge, Chrome and Firefox. It will be hosted on a server connected to the intranet in the form of one or several virtual machines.
Anything can be printed, from simple tent pegs to metal parts for military equipment
Scope for new developments and product improvements
The study focuses on various user groups, one of them being the specialist personnel of the Bundeswehr Research Institute for Materials, Fuels and Lubricants. Its in-house 3D printing centre functions as a ‘Centre of Excellence’, where the existing expertise and capacities in additive manufacturing in the Bundeswehr are pooled.
Another user group consists of Bundeswehr facilities in Germany and abroad which already have their own 3D printing systems. Thanks to their geographical proximity to the locations in which the printed parts are used, they can provide insights and ideas for new developments and product improvements.
The third group is made up of people in the Bundeswehr who do not have their own systems nor knowledge about 3D printing but whose responsibilities include ordering and testing parts for their own fields of duty, which allows them to contribute their own experiences.
When it comes to printable parts, the sky is the limit: anything can be 3D-printed, from simple tent pegs to metal parts for military equipment that must meet complex material requirements.
From July, the platform will be tested by an extended group of users, bringing 3D printing directly to the soldiers.