A New Dimension of Acquisition

A Soldier heads back to camp, grabs a power bar and unloads his gear. The power bar, which was “printed” minutes earlier, contains all the nutrients his body currently needs, according to sensors that are embedded in his uniform.

While this sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, engineers and scientists at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) are looking at ways to use additive manufacturing (AM, also known as 3-D printing) to meet Soldiers’ needs. Using AM to supply Soldiers with customized nutrient-dense food, or to repair critical parts on demand or to print new cells to repair burned skin, will not only lighten the logistics burden but also make the acquisition process more efficient.

“The vision is to be able to have additive manufacturing as a tool in the toolbox so that Soldiers can manufacture and produce a product as close to the point of need as possible,” said Andy Davis, program manager for the Army’s Manufacturing Technology program (ManTech). Part of RDECOM, which is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, ManTech works closely with Army organizations to identify and fund projects that support the overall Army science and technology strategy.

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