For the first time ever, North Carolina college students are teaming up with representatives from the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the additive manufacturing industry in a 3D Printing Design Competition aimed at addressing military challenges. Hosted by the University of North Carolina system and sponsored by the U.S. Army Research Office, the event is being held at Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) March 30-31.
Five competing teams are made up of students from FTCC, along with a diverse mix of undergraduate and graduate students in additive manufacturing-related fields from Fayetteville State University, NC State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and UNC Charlotte. Teams were asked to combine their educational knowledge and 3D printing skills with input from USASOC and DOD participants to envision, design, and create prototype items that could potentially be used by the military.
To develop and build their concepts, each team has access to computer design programs and tools, 3D scanners, a variety of 3D printers, and other related equipment. Industry experts in design are available throughout the competition to provide guidance and facilitate use of the equipment.
During the two-day event, students will benefit from briefs, presentations, demonstrations and hands-on educational opportunities on designing for 3D and 3D printing. UNC system faculty and staff members with relevant experience will attend as observers and facilitators, and industry representatives from 3D Systems, Stratysys and Practical Scientific LLC will provide supporting equipment, materials, software, facilitation, and educational and technical briefings.
Invited participants were selected from UNC and FTCC campuses, USASOC at Fort Bragg, other components of the U.S. Special Operations Command, and other Department of Defense and industry organizations. The U.S. Army Research Office, a division of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, hopes that the competition will advance the capabilities of additive manufacturing for the benefit of the Army and Army Special Operations Forces.