3d printers

MatterHackers wins $5 million NAVAIR contract to supply Ultimaker 3D printers to US fighters

Award-winning 3D printer and filament supplier MatterHackers won a five-year IDIQ contract worth up to $5 million to supply fully deployable 3D printing systems to US Navy and Navy bases in the United States and overseas.

Awarded by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), and which would be the largest military contract ever awarded for desktop 3D printers, the deal will see MatterHackers fielding up to 75 Tier 1 additive manufacturing systems through 2025. The system will include Ultimaker S5 3D printers and industrial-grade filament, plus additional IT support, maintenance strategy, and on-the-job training.

“MatterHackers’ commitment to NAVAIR is not just to provide 3D printers in the field and to Warfighters, but to provide ongoing training and personalized support to ensure the systems are used to their full potential,” said Mara Hitner, vice president of strategic partnerships. for MatterHackers.

“Particularly with the variety of rugged, engineering-grade materials available for the Ultimaker S5, the impact these systems will have on our Warfighters’ abilities to do their jobs around the world will be unparalleled.”

MatterHackers will supply the Ultimaker S5 and materials to US Navy and Navy bases. Photo via Ultimaker.

One stop shop for NAVAIR

As the leading US retailer of 3D printers and office materials, MatterHackers is well positioned to execute the NAVAIR contract due to its extensive vendor relationships and proven ability to coordinate complex logistics. In fact, MatterHackers has already secured a contract to provide 3D printers and training to I MEF Training Center in Additive Manufacturing at Camp Pendleton.

Being one of the largest Ultimaker resellers since 2015, MatterHackers considers the Ultimaker S5 to be a suitable 3D printer for NAVAIR’s requirements for a number of reasons. The printer was chosen for its large-scale build volume, extensive catalog of NFC-enabled materials, IT-secured design options, and integration with Ultimaker’s Cura software.

“Ultimaker has become a leading 3D printing platform by earning the trust of some of the most demanding organizations in the world,” said Jürgen von Hollen, CEO of Ultimaker. “The selection of our Ultimaker S5 3D printing platform to be part of the largest US military contract ever awarded for desktop 3D printers is particularly exciting.

“Serving this critical sector and meeting the unique requirements of US Navy and Navy bases in the United States and abroad advances 3D printing applications across all industry sectors in the years to come. .”

The image shown shows the Ultimaker S5 system being programmed using the company's Essentials software package.  Image via Ultimaker.
The Ultimaker S5 system is programmed using the company’s Essentials software package. Image via Ultimaker.

Provide hands-on training

In addition to providing NAVAIR with Ultimaker S5 3D printers and industrial-grade materials under the contract, MatterHackers will also provide on-the-job training through its partner, Build momentum.

Building Momentum is an immersive training and interactive learning company that uses 3D printers as a standard tool in its training programs. The company will provide hands-on training at each Navy and Navy base receiving a Level 1 additive manufacturing system from MatterHackers, and will also offer follow-up training throughout the five-year contract, covering topics such as 3D printing with advanced materials and problem-solving.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to train the NAVAIR team on these 3D printers, as we have seen firsthand the huge impact they can have on real change within the military, as well as businesses,” said Thomas Sullivan, COO at Building Momentum. . “Our Innovation Bootcamp training program has had widespread success over the years, and 3D printing is a core part of that program.

“We look forward to building a relationship with NAVAIR and continuing our commitment to MatterHackers for the benefit of all parties.”

One of the first prototypes of the 3D printed antenna support.  Photo via NAVAIR.
One of the first prototypes of the 3D printed antenna support. Photo via NAVAIR.

Continued adoption of AM by NAVAIR

The five-year contract will see multiple Ultimaker S5 desktop polymer systems deployed in NAVSEA’s Fleet Readiness Centers, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons and their associated Expeditionary Units. The deal represents the first step in NAVAIR’s three-tiered approach to “putting additive manufacturing in the hands of the fleet”, with the other two tiers focusing on industrial polymer and metal 3D printing systems. .

“The IDIQ provides our warfighters with the much-needed capability to print parts at the point where they need them,” said Robert Kimble, Director of NAVAIR’s Naval Support Group.

NAVAIR has been harnessing 3D printing technology for some time, having celebrated the first successful flight of an aircraft with a 3D printed flight-critical component in 2016. A year later, NAVAIR launched a critical request for a part 3D printed that would save lives. for use inside its Goshawk trainer aircraft from its sister organization, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).

In 2018, the organization estimated that it relied on some 1,000 3D printed parts that had been approved for use across its fleet. Since then, NAVAIR has developed 3D-printed antenna mounts for the US Navy’s MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, and has also invested funds in an additive manufacturing data specialist Senvol to further develop its machine learning software for optimizing 3D printed parts and processes.

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Featured image shows MatterHackers will supply the Ultimaker S5 and materials to US Navy and Navy bases. Photo via Ultimaker.