The Applied Science & Technology Research Organisation, or ASTRO America for short, is leading a US military project to establish whether a 3D printer can manufacture a Humvee chassis in one go.
Larry Holmes, Principal Investigator at ASTRO America observed, “Additive manufacturing at a massive scale holds the potential to transform the way vehicles are built for the military while reducing supply chain fragility. The mission is to develop a large-scale tool capable of producing single, jointless combat vehicle hulls at a near net size of 30ft x 20ft x 12ft in size.”
Monolithic hulls for combat vehicles have specific advantages - especially in survivability and weight savings - but traditional manufacturing processes are not cost-effective or adaptable to full production when multiple vehicle platforms are put being created.
Aaron LaLonde from the US Army commented, “Advanced manufacturing methods that are capable of enabling innovative part designs and concepts have tremendous value in achieving part, component and, ultimately, vehicle concepts to provide warfighters and systems with leading performance advantages. This project will scale the benefits of metal additive manufacturing to a size range that will allow the benefits of the technology to be realised on larger system scale parts and enable next-generation vehicle performance.”
The partners hope that by leveraging and adapting existing techniques, rather than inventing new 3D printers, the project will come to fruition sooner, although no date has been set for durability trials to begin.