ADAPT will be using additive manufacturing to assist the Army in maintaining its ground vehicle fleet. The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (pictured) is one of the types of vehicles that will be part of the project.

From the Mines newsroom: The U.S. Army is exploring new possibilities for implementing additive manufacturing– also known as 3D printing – with help from the Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies (ADAPT) at Colorado School of Mines.

Working through a contract with America Makes, a collaborative association that connects member organizations from industry, academia, government and non-government agencies, ADAPT is creating faster and more efficient ways to implement additive manufacturing within the Army’s ground vehicle fleet. The project kicked off in December 2020.

Additive manufacturing can provide the Army with certain advantages over traditional manufacturing, said Craig Brice, professor of practice in mechanical engineering and executive director of ADAPT.

While additive has advanced rapidly in the past decade, most of the focus in the military has been on high-value parts in the aerospace sector. The ground vehicle sector has lagged as the economics are more challenging and the performance demands are not as stringent.

For this project, a short list of candidate parts will be selected, and the team led by ADAPT will work to mature the pathways necessary for implementation.

“One of the biggest challenges in additive manufacturing is the qualification and certification path for new processes and new parts,” Brice said. “There are stringent requirements that must be met that ensure that the parts will perform as expected in service. Our team will develop improved pathways for AM part implementation into the Army ground vehicle fleet.”

Once the project progresses, Brice said ADAPT hopes to develop new materials that both perform well in additive manufacturing and are useful substitutes for the metals used in conventional manufacturing.