The European Defense Agency has announced the upcoming construction of a 3D printing lab at its new facility in Zaragoza, Spain, the European Tactical Airlift Centre (ETAC). The centrer is set to be opened by Federica Mogherini, the Head of the EDA, Vice President of the European Commission and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy on June 8th, 2017. The agency’s goal is to determine the possible ability of using 3D printing technology as an integral part of the military operations.
The 3D printing lab is poised to become a component of the third 2017 European Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Course (EAATTC) which is hosted by the Spanish Air Force. The course, which is intended to bring multiple countries that are members of the EDA in order to provide a general tactical blue print for airlifting, will feature aircraft from various European nations such as, Belgium, Germany, Poland and Spain. Aside from learning new techniques for supply deliveries, the EAATTC will test the incorporation of 3D printing in-flight, a project known as the Additive Manufacturing Feasibility Study & Technology Demonstration.
This project is designed to test the ability of 3D printing technology in military operations, with hopes of finding potential defense improvements. Similar to these EDA tests, the United States military has previously conducted tests to use 3D printing technology in military supply drops as opposed to traditional parachute drops. In this case, the EDA is planning to test the 3D printing lab during a flight by attempting to 3D prints both on site and on board an aircraft. According to an EDA press release,
“The deployment of the 3D printing lab represents a significant step in bridging the data gap on 3D printer performance in deployed conditions and will demonstrate the operational utility of these technologies…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.”
It has not been disclosed as to what 3D printer(s) the EDA will be using.