Additive manufacturing in the Marine Corps
McLearen, Luke J.
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As the Marine Corps continues to conduct small-unit distributed operations, the strain on its logistics intensifies. The Marine Corps must search for a solution to increase the efficiency and responsiveness of its logistics. One solution is using additive manufacturing, commonly referred to as 3D printing. This thesis answers the question of how additive manufacturing can improve the effectiveness of Marine Corps logistics. In order to answer the question, beneficial process(es), application(s), and level of integration are determined through a comparative analysis of current and future 3D-printing processes, examination of several civilian and military examples, and examination of the impact across current doctrine, organization, training, material, leadership, personnel, and facilities. Several issues should be addressed prior to the Marine Corps fully integrating 3D printers, such as the lack of certification and qualification standards, unreliable end product results, and determining ownership of intellectual property. When these issues are properly mitigated, the Marine Corps should procure printers for the purpose of manufacturing repair parts, tools, and other support aids. Marine Expeditionary Units should be the first units to receive the printers. If the printers are integrated properly, they could assist logisticians in supporting Marines conducting distributed operations throughout the battlefield.
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