NIWC Pacific and MatterHackers Sign Agreement to Promote 3D Printing for the Marine Corps

Above: 3D printing aboard the USS Essex/Source: MatterHackers

The Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific and MatterHackers, a 3D printing company based in Southern California, has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to advance the use of 3D printing for the Marine Corps. This CRADA aims to provide Navy and Marine Corps use cases to identify, test, and collect data on efficient, low-cost expeditionary 3D printing.

MatterHackers assesses harsh field environments by providing subject matter expertise through on-site and virtual training, technical support, and equipment, including a wide range of 3D printers using engineering-grade materials.

“CRADA results will potentially contribute to accelerating the operationalization of off-the-shelf commercial 3D printing for government and military use, a task that is well underway by the Marine Corps Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell (AMOC). AMOC’s goal is to further utilize additive manufacturing across the Marine Corps, including certification, storage, and file sharing for approved 3D printed parts.

– Major Matthew Audette, Advanced Manufacturing Systems Team Leader

Advancing 3D Printing for the Marine Corps

3D printed Metal Gear for the Marine Corps
Above: Metal Gear 3D printed for the Marine Corps/Source: MatterHackers

NIWC Pacific provides technology and engineering support to a number of major US Navy and Department of Defense commands. As part of this CRADA, MatterHackers joins NIWC Pacific to specifically assess and identify Marine Corps use cases associated with ground vehicle equipment and other innovative solutions developed by the Marine Corps. MatterHackers offers industry-leading expertise in direct part replication, material substitution, part consolidation, and general design practices that are particularly suited to 3D printed parts.

“MatterHackers has worked closely with our neighbors at Camp Pendleton in Southern California for years, and we’re excited to be able to deepen their 3D printing needs with this CRADA. We want to help push those capabilities further with the right machines, the right materials and the right training.

– Mara Hitner, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at MatterHackers

MatterHackers will work with the Marine Corps to test 3D printed parts in a variety of usage scenarios, with successful prototypes delivered to respective program offices for further reliability and durability testing. MatterHackers will work with the aforementioned groups to design and prototype new additive manufacturing equipment to meet the needs of the Marine Corps, including the ability to widely ingest readily available materials of interest, such as 3D printer filament in stainless steel which can be debinded and sintered. Offsite.

According to Maj. Kate DeLeal, US Marine Corps Headquarters, Director of Additive Manufacturing Policy, “CRADAs like this facilitate the vital defense-industry collaboration that is essential to equip, maintain and sustain our forces. MatterHackers, NIWC Pacific, and Marine Corps AMOC demonstrate the best of these partnerships, seeking to create operationally informed test environments focused on evaluating the role that emerging and improved 3D printing technologies and materials can ultimately serve to improve the agility and lethality of combatants.

Kristin Holzworth, Ph.D., NIWC Pacific Principal Investigator, said, “MatterHackers, NIWC Pacific, and the Marine Corps will identify and address military-specific challenges encountered in tactical contexts, and assess how Open source 3D printing, additive manufacturing equipment, and commercial-grade technical training can help solve them quickly and efficiently. The cooperative hopes that as a result of this CRADA, 3D printing capabilities will be better integrated across all levels of the largest naval enterprise to improve the readiness of U.S. Marines and Sailors.

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