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Lance Cpl. Devin Kato, a small arms repair technician with II Marine Headquarters Group, inspects his final product during the 3D printer class at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, June 2, 2016. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, allows Marines to produce parts quickly, with exact specifications and at almost any location.

Photo by Cpl. Justin Updegraff

Printing out the future: Marines learn benefits of 3D printing

6 Jun 2016 | Cpl. Justin T. Updegraff The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Marines from various units learn, assemble and design 3-dimensional objects using the Invent3D printer at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, June 1-2, 2016.

During the past two days, the Marines were introduced to the printers, assembled them and learned about their capabilities.

Aircraft mechanics, supply Marines and small-arms repair technicians attended the class to integrate these 3D printers into various military occupational specialties, allowing the Marines to design and print any product when it is needed.

Once they were familiar with the technology, they applied problem-solving techniques to create and print 3D designs using computer aided design software.

“The goal of this training is to take advantage of some of the benefits of additive manufacturing or 3D printing”, said Justin Yates, one of the instructors who led the training and an assistant professor at Francis Marion University. “Jobs that are highly customized and need a specific tool, product or part that’s difficult to a find a commercial product for or it’s very cost prohibitive, I can sit and design it on the computer and print it out using the 3D printer.”

Forward deployed units can produce tools and parts when the support structure for shipping is not available or is delayed. When they need a replacement part, they can design it to the exact specifications and print it out using a 3D printer.

“The end state here is to hopefully integrate the 3D printers into our new mobile machine shops”, said GySgt. Justin Horn, a maintenance chief with 2nd Maintenance Battalion. “So if the need arises to make a one off part, and there is a machinist in country, you’ll have the support. But I think the intent is to also have more widespread usage of the 3D printers.”

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