The Russian defense industry has been using 3D printing technology to create prototype components for the T-14 main battle tank and the rest of the Armata family of combat vehicles. Eventually, Russian industry hopes to be able to build production standard tank components for the Armata and other armored vehicles.
“3D printing has been implemented to speed up trial production,” Anton Ulrich, manager of the rapid prototyping lab at Electromashina, told 3Ders.org.
“When a designer develops new products, he uses CAD software to produce a 3D model. So, using a 3D printer, we can quickly turn those 3D models into prototype parts. Now there is no need to order a sample component, and then, realizing that it doesn’t fit, have to order a re-run and waste metal. Furthermore, it is possible to produce not just small elements of a part, but the whole assembly, evaluating its mechanical characteristics before production.”
In the near future, Electromashina — which is a division of armored vehicle manufacturer UralVagonZavod — expects to start producing 3D printed titanium parts that are several meters in length for use in armored vehicles. However, in the short term, those components will be used for prototypes rather than for production machines.
“3D printed components can go straight to consumers in certain industries,” Ulrich told the trade magazine. “But in the defense industry, standards are much higher.”