Acquisition of Additive Manufacturing Capabilities for Expeditionary Operations
Sanchez, Susan M.
McDonald, Mary L.
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Additive manufacturing (AM) has the potential to fundamentally change how military expeditionary operations are conducted. By manufacturing spare parts in remote sites, rather than relying on lengthy and extensive supply chains or remaining tethered to an “iron mountain” of logistics support, the expeditionary units have the potential to be more agile, to maintain their readiness at high levels while deployed, and to extend their operational reach. AM has enjoyed success in a number of specialty fields. Potential benefits for expeditionary units include achieving higher readiness at lower cost, because deployed units can use AM to create replacement parts at or near the point of demand, rather than either relying on carrying large quantities of spare parts or dealing with long lead times for replacements. Another potential benefit is the ability to reduce wastage of the materials used in the three-dimensional (3D) printing process and subsequent post-treatments by only producing what is needed. Finally, if the same compounds can be used to manufacture a variety of parts, AM could help forward-deployed units maintain a high level of readiness while dramatically reducing their logistics footprint. To realize this potential, program managers have several decisions to make. They must determine how best to acquire AM capabilities, what classes of components are suitable for AM, whether the resulting structural and reliability are comparable for components made using AM and current methods, and how differences in reliability may affect the supply chain and readiness levels. If the suitability and reliability are not factored into the decision-making process, then AM may end up being a costly and largely redundant logistics system running in parallel with the current supply chain, rather than being a transformative capability.
Acquisition Research Program Sponsored Report SeriesSponsored Acquisition Research & Technical Reports
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
NPS Report NumberNPS-LM-22-006
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