The European Defence Agency (EDA) has commissioned Fundación Prodintec and MBDA France to conduct a project on “Additive Manufacturing Feasibility Study & Technology Demonstration”, with expected delivery in December 2017. The study targets the entire spectrum of European defence and Additive Manufacturing (AM) stakeholders, at all levels of defence and AM supply chains.
EDA notes that, although AM technologies have been developed in the civil sector, there is significant potential for additive manufacturing technologies to enhance defence capabilities. Among them, the most likely are mobility, sustainability, effect and protection through e.g. field repair & maintenance, reduced logistic burden and improved sustainability in warfighting and peacekeeping missions. Substantial economic benefits are also expected.
The project is composed of three work strands:
• A desktop study to place AM and its potential in a defence context. The main outcome of this work strand will be the identification of opportunities for AM in the European defence sector. At the same time, it will aim to highlight factors preventing European defence forces from reaping the benefits of this breakthrough technology.
• A technology demonstration of AM in a simulated deployment scenario to demonstrate the feasibility and operational utility of deploying these technologies in support of a military operation.
• Presentation of the conclusions at an exhibition, including the equipment used and typical objects and materials produced. The objective is to raise the military awareness of AM technology and to exemplify how it could improve the way operations, logistic support or maintenance of platforms are conducted.
The study aims to raise awareness in the defence community and promote a better understanding of the potential held by these technologies. The EDA hopes that this will create synergies between the Materials R&T community and the operational staff, helping the R&T community to understand the requirements from the operational side.