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Marines Assess Battlefield Additive Manufacturing

Posted on August 23rd, 2017 by

New Materials & Applications

Marine Corps X-Fab

By Marine Corps Systems Command [Content on YouTube], via YouTube

Supply chains can make or break a company, but supply lines can win or lose a war and have untold costs in human lives. The U.S. Marines are testing advanced in situ manufacturing technology to manufacture spare parts in theater, getting them back to the fight faster.

A highly efficient supply chain is the lifeblood of any manufacturer. Each step being on time, every time with supplies arriving just in time is pivotal to maximum efficiency and profitability. When you are the United States Marines – the tip of the spear in combat – your supply chain takes on life or death consequences. Any wait time for repair parts is just not acceptable.

The Marine Corps is exploring the use of additive manufacturing technology to help them quickly construct and repair equipment on location near the battlefield. Their prototype X-Fab (Expeditionary Fabrication) facility is a self-contained, transportable additive manufacturing unit that can be deployed on location. Marine maintenance units would then have the capability to create components in real time, solving complex and location dependent problems. For example, if the manufacturer supplied stand on a grenade launcher proved unstable due to rocky terrain, a new foot could be created after 3D laser scanning indigenous rocks. Additionally, repair parts or failed components could be copied on location eliminating the need to inventory replacements or wait for them to arrive through standard supply lines.

Housed within a 20×20 foot shelter, the Marine X-Fab includes advanced technology to create and repair parts including 3D scanners and printers as well as computer aided design software to engineer bespoke components. Have a look at the following YouTube video to learn more and see the X-Fab in action:

While many industries may claim “life or death” consequences on supply chain delays, you’d be hard pressed to find any more critical than those of military serviceman and service women. Technological innovations such as X-Fab gives America’s finest an edge to come home safely. Semper fi!

How would you additive manufacturing could improve battlefield readiness? Tell us about your quest for unconventional knowledge and what it could mean for the future of your products or companies. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to follow us on your favorite social media channel.

All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

Coatings and Plastics Lead Production Growth in June

Posted on August 22nd, 2017 by

Chemicals Industry News and Analysis


Coatings, plastics, pharmaceuticals and synthetic rubber led year on year chemicals production growth in June, the latest analysis from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) shows. But the data also illustrate the fact that sector growth remains broad-based. Continue reading “Coatings and Plastics Lead Production Growth in June” »

China bike-sharing boom bodes well for petrochemical industry

Posted on August 21st, 2017 by

Chemicals Industry News and Analysis


Bicycles of Chinese bike sharing service Mobike lined up at a subway station in Zhengzhou city in China’s Henan province (Source: Imaginechina/REX/Shutterstock)

China’s booming bicycle-sharing service is spurring investments in tyre innovation among petrochemical producers.

The number of “intelligent” bicycles available for sharing has surged to more than 30m in China in just two years of operation and is still growing. Continue reading “China bike-sharing boom bodes well for petrochemical industry” »

Chemicals M&A wave to persist despite Q2 blip

Posted on August 18th, 2017 by

Chemicals Industry News and Analysis


Chemical deal-making fell during the second quarter of 2017, but the slowdown merely marks a blip in the wave of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) that are reshaping the industry. Continue reading “Chemicals M&A wave to persist despite Q2 blip” »

Air vs. Steam Atomization Part 5 – Compressor Capacity

Posted on August 17th, 2017 by

Chemical Manufacturing Excellence


Previous posts discussed the incineration and atomization processes. The fact that the compressor currently unloads indicates that there is additional air compressor capacity that is currently not being used. Continue reading “Air vs. Steam Atomization Part 5 – Compressor Capacity” »

Hyperloop One Announces Record Speed but Doesn’t Best AĂ©rotrain

Posted on August 16th, 2017 by

New Materials & Applications


By Hyperloop One [Content on YouTube], via YouTube

Inventing a new form of transportation is hard to do, even if it’s been seemingly done before. While Hyperloop One is not the first company to attempt commercialization of a hovertrain, their achievement is not in their vehicle’s announced top speed, but in the propulsion system used to get there. Continue reading “Hyperloop One Announces Record Speed but Doesn’t Best AĂ©rotrain” »

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About Chemical & Materials Blog

This blog is a forum for a critical exchange of ideas on issues, trends and opportunities related to innovation and R&D in chemicals and new materials and applications, offering helpful perspectives in environmental health and safety, risk management, new product development and operational efficiency. This blog serves the chemicals and materials community specifically, heads of R&D, heads of Manufacturing and Engineering, and chemists and engineers involved in chemical and materials R&D from ideation to manufacturing and production at scale.

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Elsevier,  its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Reed Elsevier.