2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment is the first infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps to possess a 3-D printer and has begun printing various pieces of equipment in the event of equipment malfunctions at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Oct. 6.
“We’re at the tip of the iceberg as to what capabilities this can bring,” said Capt. Justin Carrasco, the logistics officer for the battalion. “So right now, we’re identifying different 3-D printed parts that can support the warfighter in the expeditionary environment.”
3-D printers remove the wait for parts that break while in the field, by either making them on the spot or having pre-made extras on hand.
The battalion has been testing the use of 3-D printing through facility upgrades and temporary fixes to problems. As Marines see the capabilities, they can bring more ideas to their chain of command and add more items to a library of layouts.
“It doesn’t take much work behind the scenes,” said Carrasco. “You’re limited by your imagination.”
The front-sight post on a light anti-armor weapon trainer, a gas cap for a vehicle, hand-guards and signs are only a few examples of items that do not pose any safety concerns to replace with 3-D printed parts.
The regular process to receive these items requires a work request to go through a chain of facilities and could take from two weeks to six months. The use of 3-D printers allows Marines to have operational equipment within 48 hours.
“When we talk about readiness, this is the future of the force,” said Lt. Col. Dan Gaskell, 2/8 Battalion Commander. “The ability to create something from nothing in an expeditionary environment has endless capabilities.”