Accession Number:



Implications of Additive Manufacturing Deployed at the Tactical Edge

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report,21 Jul 2014,15 Apr 2015

Corporate Author:

Defense Acquisition University Aberdeen Proving Ground United States

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Additive manufacturing AM has the potential to provide game-changing capability to deployed Special Operations Forces SOF. AM is an alternative method of producing objects in which material is deposited added to create the finished product. Traditional or subtractive manufacturing removes material from a larger product Drushal, 2013. Recent research about AM, particularly in support of Department of Defense activities, has not considered the use of AM in a tactical setting, but instead has focused on applying AM in lieu of traditional manufacturing and supply chain management. This research paper identifies the most likely missions and environments in which SOF personnel would utilize an additive manufacturing capability, reports the results of a market survey to identify potentially effective material solutions, then assesses potential implementation constraints. The survey was administered to more than 100 diverse SOF warfighters across a variety of military career fields. The survey results support the use of AM in a tactical environment, identify a preferred fielding level, and highlight a target commodity for initial implementation. Several limitations were identified in the course of this research, leading to a list of recommendations for further research. This research needs to be expanded to evaluate AM material solutions effectiveness within the environment dust, humidity, temperature, and vibration of a SOF tactical mission. Additional research is required to develop procedures to integrate parts libraries, currently available from a variety of sources, with custom requirements identified by the SOF operator in the tactical environment. The research conducted indicates that AM has the potential to increase the capability of the tactically deployed SOF warfighter.

Subject Categories:

  • Printing and Graphic Arts
  • Military Forces and Organizations

Distribution Statement: