Written By: David J. Hill
Posted: 02/28/13 8:12 AM


Throughout history, war and innovation have gone hand in hand, whether it’s breakthroughs out of heavily funded R&D programs or makeshift contraptions thrown together with spare parts. Soldiers are trained to use the technology on hand to get the job done, one way or the other.

But how would military operations change if soldiers on the battlefield could have the best of both worlds: access to expert engineers able to fabricate custom-designed fixes right on-the-spot and in very little time?

The ability to rapidly evolve solutions from conception to implementation has become a reality with the Expeditionary Lab Mobile (ELM). The 20-foot container comes equipped with 3D printers, computer-assisted milling machines, and laser, plasma, and water cutters, along with common tools like saws and welding gear. Parts can be made of plastic, steel, and aluminum.

With a generator, heating and cooling systems, and satellite communications all manned by two specially trained engineers, the 10-ton ELM is effectively a digital fabrication workshop in a box.

When an ELM is on site, soldiers can dialogue with engineers about solutions to a particular problem and discuss potential designs. Through this collaborative process, the engineers can fabricate the parts so that soldiers can immediately test the designs and provide valuable feedback.

Read more: 3D Printing On The Frontlines — Army Deploying $2.8M Mobile Fabrication Labs | Singularity Hub.

Home           Top of page