The US Marine Corps said on Monday that members 3D-printed a headcap for the rocket motor used to detonate an M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge, or MICLIC.
According to the Marine Corps, the headcap is part of a Mk22 5-inch rocket motor that propels and detonates the MICLIC, which clears a one-vehicle wide channel across minefields and other obstacles.
The headcap is the latest item 3D-printed by the Marine Corps as it investigates the technology’s utility for Marines and soldiers in the field.
“The process of 3D printing allows Marines to create a physical object from a digital design,” Chief Warrant Officer 2 Justin Trejo said Monday in a press release.
“We essentially created a 3D-printed product and incorporated it into a highly explosive system,” said Treyo, a project officer with the Program Manager for Ammunition at Marine Corps Systems Command.
Trejo said that Marines used 3D printing to create the headcap for efficiency because traditional methods were more timely and costly.
He added that 3D printing enables the warfighter to be “lighter and faster,” which is critical to supporting various missions.
Marines have been working with Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona Division to produce the 3D-printed headcap since 2019, culminating in the printing of a stainless steel version earlier this year.
A prototype headcap was evaluated in a test event at Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz., which Trejo said performed as expected.
“The rocket motor fired off just as intended as the line charge detonated as it is supposed to, which was a significant moment for us,” Trejo said.
Caleb Hughes, an engineer who supported the Yuma testing event, said 3D printing is the wave of the future.
“The previous process of traditional manufacturing is outdated, while 3D printing is a more modern manufacturing technique,” Hughes said. “I truly believe 3D printing is the next generation of the Marine Corps.”
Marines have already employed 3D printing to address other demands, including successfully testing 3D-printed impellers that eject dust from tank engines to keep filters clean in late 2018 and early 2019.
The Marines announced in the summer of 2017 the commencement of field testing of a mobile 3D-printing lab for spare parts, which would last through September 2017.
The Marines stated in October 2017 that the 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment at Camp Lejeune, N.C., had become the Corps’ first unit to have a 3D printer for spare parts.