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3D Printers Go to War: Navy’s Secret Weapon at RIMPAC 2024

In a groundbreaking move, the U.S. Navy is taking 3D printing technology to the front lines of naval operations during this year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. The world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise in the world serves as a test bed for an innovative approach to address supply chain issues in the huge Indo-Pacific region.

At Marine Corps Base Hawaii, reporters were given a rare glimpse into the future of military logistics. Several state-of-the-art 3D printers, capable of producing both metal & polymer parts, stood ready to revolutionize how critical components are manufactured and delivered to naval forces.

“I don’t really think there’s been something like this done yet with the [Department of Defense],” said Patrick Tucker, a contractor working with the Naval Postgraduate School. Tucker explained that the experiment aims to tackle the “readiness problem” by identifying needs, designing or re-engineering parts & manufacturing them on site within hours.

The initiative, overseen by the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, is set to move from land to sea. One metal printer & several polymer printers will be loaded onto the USS Somerset, an amphibious transport dock participating in RIMPAC, bringing this cutting-edge technology directly to naval operations.

This deployment of 3D printing capabilities is seen as a potential solution to what Tucker calls the “tyranny of distance” in the Indo-Pacific theater. By producing parts on demand & in-situ, the Navy hopes to significantly reduce wait times for crucial components that can impact readiness.

As 29 nations, 40 ships and 25,000 personnel engage in exercises through August 2, this 3D printing experiment could mark a turning point in military logistics. If successful, it may pave the way for a more responsive & agile supply chain, ensuring that when duty calls, the necessary parts are just a print away.

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Nestor Sawayn

Nestor Sawayn is a seasoned tech journalist and editor with a deep-rooted passion for the latest innovations. His main areas of focus are maker tools – spanning 3D printers, vinyl cutters, paper printers, and laser cutters. However, Nestor's interests extend beyond the realm of hardware, as he avidly explores the creative potential of board games and tabletop RPGs. **EXPERTISE** - In-depth knowledge of 3D printers, maker tools like Cricut-style vinyl cutters and laser cutters, as well as traditional paper printers - Analyzing and reviewing the latest tech products and trends **CREDENTIALS** - 3 years of experience as a technology journalist, editor, and product reviewer - Contributed to numerous renowned tech publications and websites - Attended and covered major industry events and product launches Joined 360TechInsights MAY 24, 2024 As a tech journalist with a keen eye for innovation, Nestor brings a wealth of expertise and passion to his coverage of the ever-evolving world of technology, with a particular focus on empowering makers and creatives through cutting-edge tools and devices. Feel free to reach out to me at

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