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Successful test flight for EDA 3D-printing lab during deployment at EAATTC 17-3

In a major step forward for EDA’s innovative Additive Manufacturing (AM or 3D-printing) in defence project, the AM lab completed a successful test flight on-board a Spanish C-130, fulfilling all airlift requirements for a military deployment and civilian transport. The test flight,  part of the simulated deployment the 3D-printing facility is currently undergoing at the European Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Course (EAATTC 17-3) in Zaragoza, was pivotal to examining its feasibility to be deployed by air.

EDA’s ground-breaking project, “Additive Manufacturing Feasibility Study & Technology Demonstration”, aims to assess the areas where Additive Manufacturing (AM) (3D-printing)  can have a positive impact on defence capabilities and to demonstrate its feasibility. The second work strand of this project is currently underway in Zaragoza as part of EDA’s airlift training course - EAATTC 17-3. In the morning of May 31st, the lab was loaded on-board a Spanish C-130 and completed a successful 30 minute flight. This test was pivotal to examining the feasibility of the facility to be deployed by air. After landing, the lab and its equipment was inspected and found to have encountered no issues from the airlift. 

The lab has now been transferred to its final location in Zaragoza airbase where it will begin producing test parts. Over the next week, technicians will interact with the officials deployed at EAATTC 17-3, presenting the possibilities offered by the equipment, and identifying in close dialogue what are the main needs in an operation that could be fulfilled by an AM facility. Together, the technicians and the officials will select a number of different test parts to be produced on site and on demand, with different grades of complexity. 

The project represents a clear example of how cross-fertilization of ideas from different domains, from R&T to operations, will enhance defence capabilities, especially when supporting deployed missions. The overall study has the objective of raising awareness in the defence community and of promoting a better understanding of the potential held by these technologies, thereby stimulating their implementation in defence specific areas. 

AM Facility on display at ETAC opening

On June 8 the new European Tactical Airlift Centre (ETAC) will be officially opened by Head of the EDA, High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini and Minister of Defence of Spain Dolores de Cospedal. ETAC represents the largest transfer of a project, created and developed by the EDA, to one of its Member States on a permanent basis.

AM technicians will be on hand to explain the project to visiting officials, who will also visit the AM lab,  and demonstrate some of the items produced during its test deployment. EDA will be live from Zaragoza on June 8th for this event, join us on twitter (@EUdefenceagency) using #EUdefence.  

Future steps: Additive Manufacturing Exhibition

An EDA Exhibition “Exploring Additive Manufacturing impact in Defence capabilities” will be held in Gijón (ES) on 12 September 2017.  The aim of this exhibition is to raise awareness among the defence community and, specifically, to high level military staff, on the capabilities that additive manufacturing technologies can bring to the defence sector and its potential for different applications. Examples on how the technology could change the way operations, logistic support or maintenance are performed, will be explained and showcased.

Moreover, attendees will have access to an exhibition during the event, where EDA AM facility (deployed at EAATTC 17-3), equipment, prototypes and real parts produced by AM will be shown. Finally, the conclusions of this EDA project, including the equipment used and typical objects and materials produced during the deployment of the AM facility will be presented, allowing participants to discuss about possible follow on activities.

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