US Army engineers are developing 3-D expeditionary kits that can be used to make specialty tools, spare parts, and other components until actual replacements arrive from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Using the Rapid Fabrication (R-FAB) kit, soldiers will be able to solve operational and mission-specific needs.
US Army Combined Arms Support Command additive manufacturing lead Captain Jeremy Pinson said: “R-FAB allows soldiers and leaders to increase their readiness by making either authorised replacement parts or user-designed ‘readiness replacement parts’.
“It means soldiers can design a solution to a problem that leaders may not even know about. While waiting for the part to be qualified, a leader of the appropriate level can accept the risk of utilising the solution. For example a robot tread could be printed, [and while] that tread may not be as good as an OEM part, the part will get the soldier through their next mission.”
The R-FAB kits will deployed at a nearest point and will have the required equipment, software and tooling, as well as database of approved design files accessible by soldiers.