Marine Corps Looking to Create 3D Printing Design Digital Repository Accessible Anywhere
The U.S. Marine Corps is looking to create a secure repository of digital 3D printing designs so that Marines would be able to make spare parts with 3D printers no matter where they are. Today, the Marine Corps has an abundance of data related to 3D printing, but it is not stored in a manner that is accessible for broad-based use.
Kristin Holzworth, chief scientist at the Quantico-based SYSCOM’s Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell (AMOC) says, “There’s a lot of data already out there, but it’s all disaggregated and it’s unclear what we have, what we don’t have, and getting fleet access to what we do have can be quite difficult.”
The idea for a complete catalog of 3D printed designs was presented during the virtual WEST 2021 conference, cohosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA.
Joshua Whitehead, maintenance officer at SYSCOM’s Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch, shared that a March 2020 Marine Corps Order (number 4700.4) on Additive Manufacturing details the processes for 3D printing as a capability of the Marine Corps and addresses many concerns, but leaves out the critical component of cyber security. Any complete digital repository of 3D designs would need to be secure and look at cybersecurity from every angle, as Marines in the field may be printing parts for machines that could directly impact national security.
Whitehead commented that “We do not want the Marine Corps to become a manufacturer. We just want to fix our things now, and as far forward as possible, vice waiting to get the actual solution into the fight.” In Fiscal Year 2020, each Marine battalion will be supplied with its own 3D printing capabilities. As the availability of 3D printing grows, the Marine Corps is looking to adapt its systems and processes to take advantage of the technology.