Looking for 3D printing specialists in the Military and Defense industry? Alexander Daniels Global can help. Throughout this article, we’ll discuss how 3D printing manufacturing strategies have transformed the Military and Defense industry while detailing how you can easily recruit for your additive manufacturing team.

How is 3D Printing Used in the Defense and Military industry?

3D printing has been adopted across global Military and Defense programs to provide innovative solutions in the industry. In the US the manufacturing process has been used by the Navy, Air Force, Military and Marines for various problem-solving solutions including custom parts for repairs, production of critical components and state-of-the-art medical solutions for veterans.

3D Printing in the US Military and Defense industry

3D Printing in the US Navy

In 2022, the US Navy deployed a metal 3D printer on its vessel, USS Bataan. The equipment was installed on the vessel in order to print individual parts for repairs immediately, without needing to wait for materials and parts. Vessels no longer need to return to shore for repairs or materials which reduced the demand on the Naval supply chain.

The Navy also utilizes polymer 3D printing so that the crew can print parts that would have otherwise become obsolete. This helps to extend the lifespan of Naval Vessels and reduce downtime where previously vessels would have been decommissioned or put out of action.

3D Printing in the US Army

Several 3D printing manufacturers have developed 3D Printed Drones for the US Military, which are used for a number of different military operations such as

  • Surveillance and reconnaissance missions
  • Identifying military targets
  • Direct attack missions
  • Delivering supplies
  • Damage assessment
  • Search and rescue
  • Electronic warfare

The production of drones via 3D printing methods can be beneficial as the drones can be printed and deployed rapidly, especially when time is a critical factor. The printing applications can also be transported into combat zones where production can be scaled in line with the military operation.

The Navy also utilizes polymer 3D printing so that the crew can print parts that would have otherwise become obsolete. This helps to extend the lifespan of Naval Vessels and reduce downtime where previously vessels would have been decommissioned or put out of action.

3D Printing in the US Airforce

The US Airforce has saved thousands of dollars per part by reverse engineering and 3D printing obscure components for Military Aircrafts. For example, by 3D printing an aircraft’s radio button, the Airforce no longer has to replace the whole radio. In September 2023, 3D Systems was awarded a $108 million contract with the US Airforce to develop a Large Scale Metal Printing System.

3D Printing in Global Military and Defense

It’s not just the US that has adopted advanced manufacturing techniques as part of its Military and Defense programs, it has become the new industry standard of manufacturing globally.

Chinese Military Stealth Bomber

It’s been widely reported that 3D printing has been used to develop China’s J-25 stealth bomber. The Additive manufacturing process has been implemented to create a lighter, faster and more durable aircraft than ever before.

Photo credit: 3DPrint.com

German Military Armored Vehicle Parts

Rheinmetall, Germany’s largest defense company has invested over $400 million in recent years in new military research and development with a specific focus on Multi Jet fusion and SLM modelling.  3D printing is used for handles and paneling on Germany’s armored fighting vehicle “the Lynx”.

Dutch 3D Printed Temporary Structures

The Dutch Military use 3D Printers in the field to create remote structures and components when they are deployed in remote areas. This is especially useful when the delivery of parts made using traditional methods could potentially take weeks or even months.    

Timeline of 3D Printing in the Defense and Military Industry

Initially, 3D printing was used for researching and prototyping in the early 2000s but has since become essential to the production of Defense and Military components. Some of the main milestones in the history of 3D Printing in the Defense and Military Industry includes.

  • Early 2000s – The Military and Defense industry begin to experiment with 3D printing for the production of prototypes.
  • Mid 2000s – Investment began from the US Department of Defense for the production of parts for drones, aircrafts and other spare parts via 3D Printing applications.
  • Early 2010s – The US deploys its first mobile 3D printing labs to military personnel in combat zones.
  • Mid 2010s – 3D Printing becomes more mainstream in the production of spare parts on US Military Aircrafts and Naval Vessels.
  • 2018 – The US Marines develop the first concrete 3D printed barracks.
  • 2020s – China, Russia and NATO countries invest in 3D Printing companies in large defense contracts. With a focus on advanced materials and metal printing for weaponry and armor as well as a shift to more environmentally friendly manufacturing techniques.

Working with 3D Printing in Military and Defense

If you are a 3D printing professional looking to work in the Military and Defense industry, we welcome you to get in touch. Alternatively, browse our career portal to apply for our varied open job vacancies.

For more information on how Alexander Daniels Global can help, contact our team of specialized recruiters today. We also have a wealth of HR resources to help you stay on top of hiring trends – download our 2024 AM Salary Survey today.

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