Lance Hall is the additive manufacturing technical lead for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center.
Lance Hall is the additive manufacturing technical lead for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center. (Photo Credit: Amy Tolson/AvMC Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – It could be said it’s in Lance Hall’s blood to make things.

His grandfathers were carpenters. His uncle was a machinist. Hall, for his part, crafts things for the Warfighter.

“My way of making things is with machines,” said Hall, additive manufacturing technical lead for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center. “I seem to be very adept at telling a machine to make a part. That’s what I’ve always done. I love making and seeing something come out of it to be used in an application that couldn’t be done before.”

Born and raised in Limestone County, Hall knew early on that he was probably going to be an engineer – he loved to take things apart and put them back together. While he explored the option of leaving North Alabama, it just made sense to stay in an area so entrenched in engineering. In 2001 he began work as a co-op in the propulsion lab at AvMC, then known as the Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, while he pursued his mechanical engineering degree at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

About a decade later he began to get into additive manufacturing, a type of advanced manufacturing that can be used in all areas of a product life cycle from concept development to design, prototyping, production and sustainment. His daily work today includes building hardware for a variety of customers, and working with different industry partners and people within AvMC who are interested in exploring their additive options.

An early adopter and user of additive, Hall was able to see past the initial challenges in regard to technology and materials, to the potential it had to solve different problems for AvMC and the Soldier.

“I really saw the benefit,” Hall said. “In the last five to 10 years there’s been a dramatic increase in the quality and consistency of the materials going into it, as well as the processes and the science behind controlling the machines. That’s why I’ve devoted my time to tracking it and keeping up with it.”

That devotion includes interfacing with the DEVCOM additive manufacturing community, as well as accepting developmental assignments at other organizations to expand his additive knowledge. He spent six months in a NASA facility where he was able to get more hands-on experience with the machines, as well as time at the Oak Ridge National Labs Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in Tennessee, where he delved into the science behind advancing the technology and machine learning.

With his assistance, AvMC opened its own Additive Manufacturing Facility in 2020. Hall not only picked out the machines that would best serve the center, but designed the facility’s layout.

“I’ve never had equipment that I could go out and use every day,” Hall said. “I’m happy to have my toys after all these years. There’s a lot of that misconception that you hit the green button and it comes out perfect every time. It’s not an Easy-Bake Oven. It really still takes a lot of art to it and some of that tribal knowledge that you can only get by making parts and running machines, doing it firsthand, not relying on some YouTube video. It’s been a very fun and welcome change for me for sure.”

That change is largely thanks to Hall’s willingness to never stop learning about ways he can better support the Warfighter.

“Always keep up with what’s new,” Hall advised. “A lot of people get locked in to what they know, and they don’t realize how fast things are changing. Just because you looked at it last year doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep up with it and look at it this year. Keep up with the technology. You might be able to get over that hurdle and do things you couldn’t do before with the new technologies. Don’t be afraid to drive the new car – just give it a shot.”

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The CCDC Aviation & Missile Center, formerly known as the Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, which conducts responsive research, development and life cycle engineering to deliver the aviation and missile capabilities the Army depends on to ensure victory on the battlefield today and tomorrow. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.