FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The 82nd Airborne Division’s Innovation Lab conducted the first additive manufacturing course on Fort Bragg February 21-24.
Ten students from across multiple commands attended the course designed to teach the basic concepts of additive manufacturing and how to efficiently implement it within the Department of Defense. Students included Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade and 3rd Special Forces Group.
The course was broken into two portions: designing and printing. The first half covered how to model components using computer-aided design, reverse engineering and design optimization. The second half of the class covered additive manufacturing techniques, teaching different technologies, software and materials that can be used to 3D print.
Designing and 3D printing skills are traditionally reserved for the allied trades specialist military occupational specialty; however, Soldiers of every discipline can benefit from learning design and additive manufacturing. Staff Sgt. Yems Figeuroa, a signal support systems specialist covers how beneficial this capability is for him. "I can use my experience and innovate things that can help my specific MOS," said Figeuroa.
The course ended with a capstone project, which required students to design a prototype device of their own inception. The resulting projects were as varied as the experiences and interests that the Soldiers brought to the table. Figeuroa built a mount that secures a radio and battery to an antenna, increasing the range — a device that would be useful in his MOS.
Maj. Wiggins, 18th Field Artillery Brigade's innovation officer, built a handcuff skeleton key which can be hidden in the aglet of a bootlace. "Some reports show that during World War II there were as many as 130,000 POWs. I was thinking of our future Soldiers who could find themselves in an environment like that and wanted to provide them an option for escape so that they can keep fighting, get back home and be with their families again.”
As innovation continues to be a priority across the Army, courses like this one offered by the Airborne Innovation Lab will only become more important, as it enables innovators to build real solutions.
Staff Sgt. Brendan Webster, the Airborne Innovation Lab's additive manufacturing lead, said the course "enabled Soldiers to gain the ability to bring their ideas to life. This course just provides a rock-solid foundation and know-how to truly unleash their inner innovation".
More information on the Airborne Innovation Lab and course offerings can be found on the 82nd Airborne Division's website.