Additive manufacturing (AM) in expeditionary operations: current needs, technical challenges, and opportunities
Friedell, Matthew Daniel
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Additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, is poised to change the world of military expeditionary operations. It has the potential to affect every element of military operations--logistics, training, simulation, and warfighting. However, these cutting-edge technologies are shifting so rapidly that the current military acquisition system is not prepared for their adoption on a large scale. Among the issues that need to be addressed are 3D watermarking of digital models, proper prints in a distributed system, security of a repository of 3D models, and on-site customization of existing models. The author performed an empirical study centered around a survey of United States Marine Corps (USMC) and United States Navy (USN) personnel. The objective was to determine which of the promising 3D technologies have been adopted in United States Marine Corps and United States Navy and which should (or should not) be adopted. The survey and thesis conclude that AM and Contour Crafting have a lasting place in future USMC and Navy operations. Adoption of AM in the USMC and USN is still rare, but most agree that it can be used to great effect. The thesis recommends that more studies be performed to determine the best way forward for AM within the USMC and USN.
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