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How to Prepare Defense Industries for Additive Manufacturing

Customer Story Devin Culham | March 28, 2022 | 3 min read

Discover how Phillips Corporation and 3YOURMIND work together to enable additive manufacturing for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Today, the defense industry is one of the most compelling sectors for additive manufacturing (AM) applications. The potential to produce 3D printed spare parts on-demand through a distributed manufacturing model offers a persuasive opportunity for defense industries to pursue AM initiatives.

However, before AM can become a widespread phenomenon in the military, government and defense sectors need to align people and processes to enable the right degree of qualification and control.

“The U.S. government is typically not known as a manufacturer,” says Tim McClanahan, Director Program Management Office at Phillips Corporation. “A lot of the programs that support the government are from the seventies, eighties, and nineties, where there wasn't as much additive integration. And now, some of those suppliers are no longer available.”

For the government, innovation is a long and arduous process – and not something performed on a whim.

“If the government has been buying something since the eighties, chances are, they don't want to see change,” suggests McClanahan. “They want that something that's known, it's proven.”

So how do you convince them to push forward? For government agencies, often, the greatest catalyst for innovation is a restricted supply chain. 

In recent years, global supply chains have become increasingly unstable due to environmental crises, growing geopolitical conflicts, labor shortages, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Pursuing an additive manufacturing initiative requires branches of the U.S. military to be crystal clear on what parts can be produced with AM and how those print materials will be sourced.

“Even now, some of the challenges are knowing what items are best suited for additive manufacturing and which items would not be,” says McClanahan. 

The first step is to analyze large part inventories for AM applications. However, without the right tools in place, finding AM use cases is a burdensome task.

“If you had a hundred thousand parts sitting in front of you and you knew that all of them could be a potential issue either now or going forward in the next five years, where do you set your focus?” asks McClanahan. 

That’s where Phillips Corporation and 3YOURMIND come into play.

Additive Manufacturing for the Defense Industry

Phillips Corporation and 3YOURMIND are working together to bring more additive manufacturing capabilities to the U.S. Department of Defense.

3YOURMIND and Phillips Corporation, Federal Division
Phillips Corporation has a 60-year history in machine manufacturing and tooling distribution, including 18 years of additive manufacturing experience. In addition, Phillips Corporation’s Federal Division specializes in providing services to the federal government, including additive manufacturing technology in both civilian services and defense sectors. 

In partnership with 3YOURMIND, Phillips Corporation provides the federal government with a full-scale solution to enable its innovation capabilities. Leveraging Phillips Corporation's AM knowledge with its experience in federal contracting, 3YOURMIND enables government entities like the U.S. Marine Corp to identify use cases for AM parts, manage its order workflow, and streamline AM production capabilities.  

3YOURMIND’s part assessment tool helps to qualify parts using technical and economic factors to prepare parts for qualification and certification. In tandem, Phillips Corporation provides equipment and lends technical expertise to print and test functional prototypes for part approval. 

“It’s not so much that Phillips corporation and 3YOURMIND are providing additive manufacturing services to the government,” says McClanahan. “It's us showing them how to do it for themselves and how to provide them with the software, the understanding, the knowledge base, and the equipment to leverage their own assets to do it themselves.”

By helping the U.S. Marine Corp develop its additive manufacturing processes, Phillips Corporation and 3YOURMIND are bringing additive manufacturing to enter its biggest arena yet – the U.S. government.

“The Department of Defense can be a lot more powerful when they can control every step of the way,” says McClanahan.

Additive manufacturing is gaining foothold in the defense sector.  Find out why. 

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