Soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina now have a way to make their own parts or build solutions to engineering problems they face in their work.
Soldiers and staff with the 82nd Airborne Division’s Innovation Lab conducted their first additive manufacturing course on Fort Bragg in late February, according to an Army release.
Ten students from various commands attended the course, which taught basic concepts of additive manufacturing and how to use those concepts in military work.
Students included soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade and 3rd Special Forces Group.
Fort Bragg has become its own kind of tech innovation hub through a competition known as the Dragon’s Lair, a competition lightly modeled on the TV Show “Shark Tank.” The XVIII Airborne Corps competition has seen tools built for Humvee trailer connectors and ways for Black Hawk Pilots to better manipulate devices in the cockpit.
Students learned the material in two portions, designing and printing. The design portion showed them how to model components using computer-aided design, reverse engineering and design optimization. The printing portion went over additive manufacturing techniques, with coverage of different technologies, software and materials for 3D printing.
The course concluded with a project that required students to build a prototype device of their own design. One soldier built a mount that secures a radio and battery to an antenna. That shift increases the signal’s range.
Maj. Wiggins, the 18th Field Artillery Brigade’s innovation officer, built a handcuff skeleton key that may be hidden in a bootlace aglet.
“Some reports show that during World War II there were as many as 130,000 POWs. I was thinking of our future soldiers who could find themselves in an environment like that and wanted to provide them an option for escape so that they can keep fighting, get back home and be with their families again,” Wiggins said in the release.