The Australian Army is rapidly developing their metal manufacturing capability with SPEE3D’s award-winning metal 3D printing technology. The Australian Army announced a $1.24 million investment in a pilot of SPEE3D technology in February 2020 with a 12-month trial of the WarpSPEE3D Tactical printer. The trial was designed to test the feasibility of deploying metal 3D printing as a capability both in barracks and in the field. The WarpSPEE3D Tactical printer uses cold spray technology that enables fast and cost-effective metal part production. It can print large metal parts up to 40 kg at a rate of 100 grams per minute.
A number of field trials in 2020 resulted in more than fifty case studies of printable parts and demonstrated that SPEE3D’s WarpSPEE3D printer was robust enough to operate in remote Australian bushland and the program was extended in 2021 to verify initial results.
This year SPEE3D has been working closely with Army to train the first military Additive Manufacturing Cell (AMC) technicians who specialize in the production of 3D metal printed parts, from design to printing, machining, heat treatment and certification. In the remote bushland of Bradshaw Training Area, located in the Northern Territory, the AMC and SPEE3D recently tested the WarpSPEE3D Tactical printer as part of its toughest trial yet. The printer was transported over 600 kilometers from base, over rough terrain, to operate in hot and dusty conditions for three weeks.
Over the three-week trial the team are producing metal parts for the M113 armored personnel carrier which is a vehicle that has been used by the Australian Army for more than 40 years. The aim of this year’s trial is to prove metal 3D printing can produce high-quality, military grade parts that can be validated and certified for use in the field. The success of this trial will demonstrate that Additive Manufacturing plays an important part in the future of Defence readiness.
As the program continues, the AMC will explore more components that can be repaired and replaced using metal 3D printing and assess how this technology may eventually fit into Australian Army infrastructure.