We often hear about the ways in which 3D printing is being explored and leveraged by the U.S. military. However, it’s not only Americans that are adopting the technology for defense-based purposes. In France, for instance, the army recently acquired two 3D printers from Prodways Group.
An order for two ProMaker P1000 3D printers was placed by the Integrated Structure for Maintaining Land Equipment in operational condition (SIMMT), a group that supports all French Army units. The two 3D printers will enable the French military to investigate and validate the benefits of additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in the field.
Both 3D printers are expected to be delivered by summer 2019 and their adopting and use will be supported by Prodways Group, which will provide materials and training. The ProMaker P1000 is an industrial selective laser sintering (SLS) machine capable of printing high-precision parts from a broad range of materials.
One of the ProMaker P1000 3D printers will be containerized for deployment in external operations, enabling the production of spare parts in the field and on demand. This 3D printer will have to operate autonomously to produce needed parts on site.
The second 3D printer from Prodways will be installed for the Tulle detachment of the 13th Material Support Base (BSMAT), which will ensure operational support of the additive manufacturing chain from its base in France.
If all goes well with the adoption of the two Prodways machines, the French military plans to explore additional applications and uses for 3D printing within the French and foreign Armed Forces, as well as the offshore industry.
In the U.S., many 3D printing technologies—including polymer and metal-based technologies—are being utilized by the military for a range of applications. One of the main benefits offered by the technology in the defense sector—the same advantage that interests the French Army—is that spare or replacement parts could be 3D printed on the fly and in the field, alleviating certain supply chains and inventory needs when in battle.