The US Navy has awarded a 5-year NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command) Tier 1 Additive Manufacturing System Contract to MatterHackers, the largest US-based retailer of desktop 3D printers and materials. Building Momentum would offer printers, filament, IT and support, and maintenance during the length of the contract.
It is the Navy’s largest contract for 3D printers, demonstrating
the armed forces’ sustained commitment to additive manufacturing in the US and around the world.
The Navy has been interested in additive manufacturing for a long time,
not just because of its speed, but also because of its capacity to make spare components.
For example, in February, we told you about the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), which used Xerox’s ElemX 3D printer for a collaborative research study on additive manufacturing capabilities for the Navy and Marine Corps.
One of the uses being investigated was the possibility of making spare parts,
particularly on open-sea boats,
though tooling work was also mentioned. The Navy sees the importance of additive manufacturing, as seen by the awarding of a five-year IDIQ contract.
“The IDIQ offers the much-needed capability of printing parts at the point-of-need to our Warfighters,”
said Mr Robert Kimble, NAVAIR’s Naval Sustainment Group Director.
MatterHackers and the US Navy Sign a Contract
The contract will give MatterHackers a one-stop-shop for Naval Air Systems Command’s additive manufacturing needs. And the company was chosen not by chance
, but rather because of its vast contacts with industry partners,
owing to its position as the leading 3D printing store in the United States.
It also has a previous engagement with the US military, having
given 3D printers and training to the IMEF Additive Manufacturing Training
Center at Camp Pendleton under a previous contract award.
The agreement will cover not only the supply of additive manufacturing
systems to US Navy and Machine bases in the United States and abroad but also training.
This is vital since one of the most significant
barriers to the correct adoption of AM has been a lack of education in critical areas such as AM design (DfAM).
The hands-on training for any base receiving a Tier 1 Additive Manufacturing
System will be provided by MatterHackers’ partner, Building Momentum,
an immersive training and interactive learning organization that frequently uses 3D printers.
Throughout the five-year contract period,
the company will also provide follow-on training for advanced materials and problem resolution, according to the press release.
MatterHackers determined that the Ultimaker S5 was the ideal printer for the job.
This was due to several factors, according to MatterHackers, including “its large-scale build volume
, a library of compatible materials with NFC chips for simplicity of use, IT-secure design possibilities, and strong Cura software
.” The deployment of the Ultimaker S5 desktop polymer system to Fleet Readiness Centers,
Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons, and linked Expeditionary
Units is the first phase in a three-tiered strategy to AM in the Fleet.
They are also interested in the deployment of industrial
polymer and metal part printing technologies
in the future.