The Surprising Role of Manufacturing Solutions Within the Defence Industry

The Surprising Role of Manufacturing Solutions Within the Defence Industry

Most people are now aware of the supply chain issues that have been caused by the global pandemic. From raw materials to food supplies, products around the world are being affected and problems are being experienced in every sector.

The Australian Army is not immune to such issues. However, when it comes to defence, the repercussions of delivery delays could be far more profound than mere inconvenience. This was one of the reasons behind a recent field trial carried out that utilised the next generation of 3D printing – a process known as Additive manufacturing.

The background

Many of the army’s commodities are produced from metal. While the ability for metal 3D printing has been around for some years, it has yet to be fast enough or cost-effective to consider it for defence use. However, the supply chain issues were enough to carry out a trial that focused on the production of the metal element of a multi-tool at source.

SPEE3D, an Australian company, was brought in to take on the challenge. After consideration, they determined that the best way to approach the issue was with a cutting-edge, cloud-based 3D modelling system, called Fusion 360. This was able to be deployed to carry out metal 3D printing on-site, using a CAD, CAM, CAE and PCB software platform.

The Role of Fusion 360

In addition to the advanced capabilities already mentioned, one great advantage of Fusion 360 is that with only minimal training, anyone can design, engineer and print metal products.

The results of the trial were extraordinary. The soldiers were able to bypass the traditional lengthy procurement system, whereby they ordered the part and waited it to be delivered. Instead, they could design a custom-made product that was wholly fit for purpose and print it out in situ – in around an hour! This was deemed to be around 1,000 faster than traditional manufacturing.

But that wasn’t all. The cost to create the part totalled around $100. Plus, there’s no carbon footprint associated with delivery.

Having the ability to produce accurate 3D metal parts in the field offers tremendous possibilities – and not just within the defence sector. Cheap, virtually instantly accessible parts is a game-changing benefit for multiple industries – and especially that of manufacturing.

Innovative, Custom Solutions: Just one of the reasons behind the government push for Australian manufacturing

Australian manufacturing has languished in the doldrums for far too many decades. From the heydays of the 1960s, today’s industry has a long way to go to once again account for the 25% of GDP that it represented back then. However, thanks to much-needed government investment, the industry is once again on the rise.

Examples, such as the Fusion 360-Austrian Army trial, showcase the power of technology and the benefits on offer. Home-grown expertise is exactly what the country needs to become a global manufacturing powerhouse once again – not to mention providing Australia with the ability to rely less on outside imports,

From apprenticeships to upskilling, innovation to subject matter experts, exciting and advanced custom solutions come from investment into our current and future workforce. While the take-off has been frustratingly slow, it’s trials such as this that show the huge potential that technology brings to manufacturing. With the green shoots of recovery beginning to show, this is an exciting time for the industry. Watch this space – there’s plenty more to come…

You might also find this interesting “The Benefits of Rapid Prototyping in Manufacturing” and “CNC Machining Is a Game Changer for the Manufacturing Industry