Babcock International Group, headquartered in London, UK, reports it has supplied a number of metal additively manufactured parts to the British Army. The steel components, reported to be the first AM parts supplied to the Ministry of Defence (MOD), are fitted to in-service Titan and Trojan vehicles and form part of a periscope system.
The use of Additive Manufacturing is expected to tackle the growing challenges of technical and commercial obsolescence. Its use is said to be part of a longer-term global advanced manufacturing investment programme by Babcock, which is developing a capability that could see parts additively manufactured at the point of need, including aboard vessels at sea.
“This investment in technology allows us to support our customers in a completely different way, at home and deployed on operations. If a component is required and cannot be sourced, we can now find a way to make it,” stated Tom Newman, Land Chief Executive. “As we look to the future of Equipment Support, Additive Manufacturing has significant implications for our customers, and I am delighted Babcock is leading the way in developing this capability.”
Brigadier Phil Prosser, CBE, Assistant Chief of Staff for Equipment, HQ Field Army, added, “The fitting of this additively manufactured part represents a key milestone for defence and the Army. Additive has disrupted industry manufacturing processes and created an agile alternative to traditional mass manufacture. Working together with Babcock, we have unlocked a pathway to manufacture certified parts.”
Babcock’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr Richard Drake said, “This marks a major milestone in finding solutions for obsolete parts and in tackling resilience in the supply chain – some of the biggest challenges engineering and manufacturing businesses like ours are facing. We’re using disruptive technologies to address that. For us, this is part of a growing investment programme around advanced and additive manufacturing, which we can now progress to other areas of our business and that is hugely exciting for Babcock.”
In February 2022, Babcock launched its technology partnership with Plymouth Science Park and unveiled an Additive Manufacturing centre. This has allowed the company to additively manufacture parts that are obsolete or required in low quantity (such as the periscope clamp) to be created in days rather than months.
Babcock is responsible for the fleet management of over 50,000 vehicles for the British Army, ranging from quad bikes and generators, to main battle tanks and weapons.
“We won’t stop here,” Dr Drake added. “We are now working towards a future where the additive techniques and processes we are putting into place now; will be readily available across any part of the MOD we support.”