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Activity title

Exploitation of Additive Manufacturing in NATO

Activity Reference

AVT-ST-006

Panel

Applied Vehicle Technology

Security Classification

NATO UNCLASSIFIED

Status

Awaiting Publication

Activity type

ST

Start date

2017

End date

2018

Keywords

3D printing, additive manufacturing, combat service support, digital modelling and fabrication, digital transformation, infield production capability, joint operations, logistics, material characterization, obsolescence, production technology, quality assurance, spare parts, standards, survey

Background

Additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes, which is distinct from traditional machining techniques, which mostly rely on the removal of material. AM is a revolutionary technology with significant implications for world industrial manufacturing and the future of warfare. It has a potential to improve, among others, readiness, reduce wider obsolescence issues, decrease sustainment costs, compress the supply chain and to enhance warfighting capabilities.

Objectives

The objective of the ST is to consider, in a NATO setting, how AM technology is being used, where it is perceived to be producing beneficial effect today, and in what ways the technology is expected to develop in the medium term and the further benefits that will flow from that. A survey will be conducted, which will consider the technology types in use and being experimented with, conceptual approaches, perceived outcomes and benefits. The survey will also seek national views on how and where NATO could add value.

Topics

Important topics covered by the AVT Specialists Team will be: Develop the questionnaire for an AM survey. Conduct an early AM survey of nations (and arms within nations in the case of the USA) within the emerging community of interest (COI). This should address how the technology is being used, where it is perceived to be producing beneficial effect today, and in what ways the technology is expected to develop in the medium term and the further benefits that will flow from that. Nations should consider the technology types in use and being experimented with (including validation and prototyping efforts), conceptual approaches, perceived outcomes (non-quantifiable) and benefits (quantifiable). It would be helpful if the survey also sought national views on how and where NATO could add value. Support will be supplied either by compiling information on individual topics and/or by attending related workshops organized by ACT.

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