• Australian Army soldiers check out the parts created using 3D printing technology. (CDU)
    Australian Army soldiers check out the parts created using 3D printing technology. (CDU)

Cutting edge 3D printing technology developed in Darwin and used by the RAN will now be used by the Army.

The partnership between Defence, Melbourne company SPEE3D and Charles Darwin University (CDU) will deliver a 12-month trial of the new metal 3D printing technology for the Army’s 1st Combat Service Support Battalion.

The government has made a $1.5 million investment in the 3D printing technology to fast-track Army’s supply chain and increase capability.

“The partnership with SPEE3D and CDU demonstrates Defence’s continued commitment to embracing advanced technologies that will speed up our processes,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said.

“This will reduce the requirement for our soldiers to deploy with bulky repair parts, redefining how logistics are deployed on the future battlefield.

“It’s a great example of how Australian industry is at the forefront of global innovation, and providing unique solutions to filling capability gaps."

Commanding Officer 1 CSSB, Lieutenant Colonel Kane Wright, said that the initiative demonstrates how Army is keeping up with the accelerated nature of warfare.

“This partnership with CDU and SPEE3D shows that we as an Army are looking to the future and embracing advanced technologies to speed up our processes,” Lieutenant Colonel Wright said.

“At maturity we see it becoming an essential enabler that will redefine how logistics is employed to support our dependencies on the future battlefield.”

Lieutenant Colonel Wright explained that the printer harnesses the power of kinetic energy to fabricate parts in a safe and environmentally friendly manner, allowing 3D metal printing in the field.

“This will reduce the requirement to deploy with bulky holdings of multiple repair parts, hence increasing mobility and survivability and reducing time waiting for new parts to create greater resilience in the supply chain,” he said.

The initial training will be delivered at CDU’s Casuarina Campus by experienced researchers over a 10-week period.

Weekly sessions will cover everything from the fundamentals of design, 3D modelling, and printing, to the testing and evaluation of developed parts.

Lieutenant Colonel Wright said that the Army will begin by trialling the production of non-safety critical repair parts while leaning on the industry experts to explore the full potential of the capability.

CDU Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Simon Maddocks, visited the soldiers in the class-room.

“This 3D printing technology has the potential to change the way many industries, including Defence, design, manufacture and supply parts,” Vice-Chancellor Maddocks said.

“CDU has become a centre of excellence in exploring and applying this new technology and we’re pleased to have such eager professional soldiers join us to learn this new skill set.”

CDU and the Army are also working to develop an educational program covering the fundamentals of design, 3D modelling and printing through to testing and certification.

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