The German Armed Forces are working on using 3D printing directly in the field, as described in a study entitled "Characteristics of a metal additive manufacturing process for the production of spare parts."The plan is to redesign the machine parts worn during deployment, create a printable file, and send it back to the combat zone, where troops will then 3D print the part.It sounds simple, and troops from other countries are doing 3D printing, too.
The authors discuss an agile development approach. Agility, as defined by the paper, is "the ability to quickly and cooperatively react to changes in unpredictable environments in order to meet demands efficiently and effectively." The paper takes a look at a specific case study carried out by the German Armed Forces. When the military needs a spare part 3D printed, the work is carried out by WiWeB, the federal research institution Bundeswehr Research Institute for Materials, Fuels and Lubricants.
When 3D printing components are needed, the work is done by two teams.The design team is responsible for generating 3D printing files, and the manufacturing team is responsible for actual 3D printing and post-processing.After the parts are completed, in some cases, the proofing department is responsible for quality control and certification.