The US Army’s Jointless Hull machine, hailed as the world’s largest additive and subtractive manufacturing apparatus, has earned the prestigious 2024 Technical Achievement Award for 3D Printing Innovation. Developed in collaboration with key partners, including Ingersoll Machine Tool, Siemens, and LIFT, this unique device has transformed manufacturing at the Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center.
As part of the U.S. Army’s $4.5 billion, 15-year modernization plan, the Jointless Hull prototype aligns with the vision of the Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center to lead the Army’s modernization efforts.
Chase Cox, Vice President of Meld Manufacturing, explains that the process mimics traditional blacksmithing, shaping metal under pressure and heat but with a sophisticated, machine-driven approach. The Jointless Hull’s substantial print volume of 20 ft x 30 ft x 12 ft opens avenues for large-scale 3D metal printing, potentially revolutionizing the production of equipment such as tank hulls.
“To be able to 3D print something that is forging level quality didn’t exist until now,” said Edward Flinn, director of the Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence at RIA-JMTC.
“In the past, except for some unique situations, it’s always been a weldment or assembly using conventional techniques. The joints were always the weakest section of the part. This new system makes it possible for people to not worry about the joints or seams because you can make it in one piece.”
Looking ahead, the Jointless Hull’s future capabilities hold the promise of further advancements in 3D metal printing technology. Its potential to operate autonomously around the clock could significantly reduce manufacturing time while ensuring the delivery of stronger, more reliable components—charting a course for the next era of Army manufacturing.
For more info about the Jointless Hull project, check out our previous article below:
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