Members of the III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), stationed at the U.S. armed forces base Camp Kinser, Okinawa, Japan, have installed a Markforged Metal X Additive Manufacturing system to produce vehicle or weapon parts in the Indo-Pacific region, reports Stars and Stripes.
The Metal X system is located at the 3rd Maintenance Battalion shop at Camp Kinser and became operational in December 2019. The III MEF is reportedly the first expeditionary force to receive one of the $150,000 machines.
Staff Sgt Quincy Reynolds, Shop Foreman, explained that the shop has twelve marines who are responsible for repairing components for vehicles and weapon systems, which can mean milling new parts out of blocks of metal, a wasteful and time-consuming process.
The Metal X system is capable of additively manufacturing multiple pieces at the same time, so that once a marine ensures the build’s base layers are correct, it can be left unmanned, freeing up the marine for other tasks.
Reynolds added that with the Metal X, marines can now take on as many as four projects at a time. The battalion’s goal is to be able to produce any metal part required. Currently, it has made gauges for .50-caliber machine guns, sockets for wrenches and a piece to test weapon optics at the armoury.