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AUSA 2023: Taking lessons from Ukraine, US ground forces look for more advanced manufacturing to boost readiness

Aluminium printed by the US Marine Depot Maintenance Command's Production Plant in Barstow, California. (US Marine Corps)

The war in Ukraine is reshaping how the US Army is looking at logistics and readiness as the service examines more opportunities to boost those operations through advanced manufacturing technologies and other innovations, according to Army Chief of Staff General Randy George.

The service established a Contested Logistics Cross-Functional Team (CLCFT) earlier in 2023, Gen George noted on 10 October during the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) 2023 annual conference in Washington, DC.

The team will help the army in its efforts to use 3D printing of parts and other additive manufacturing (AM) technologies.

β€œWe've learnt so much from Ukraine's experience and our experience supporting them,” Gen George said. β€œWe are going to adapt and change.”

The US Army and US Marine Corps (USMC) ground forces are investing in greater AM and 3D printing technology to help maintain and sustain readiness.

The USMC recently used its AM and 3D printing capabilities to print aluminium parts for a US Navy (USN) Ohio-class ballistic submarine – and the service plans to move past its current polymer-printing capability into metal printing for its expeditionary maintenance battalion forces by fiscal year (FY) 2025, David Weaver, USMC branch manager at the service's 3D Production Plant in Albany, in Georgia, told Janes .

β€œThey exclusively print polymer parts now,” Weaver told Janes during a briefing about AM and 3D printing.

β€œBy fiscal year 2024–25, they'll be in the metal printing business,” he said. β€œThat's a huge leap.”

Establishing such expeditionary AM is challenging in part because metal printing requires a lot of stability, Weaver added.

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