3D printing is often used in the military, to make objects like the small but useful TruClip, or munitions. We also see 3D printing utilized often in a classroom setting, to teach students of all ages about the technology so they’ll have a leg up when they are starting their careers later. The technology is also used in military classrooms on bases, training various branches of the military to use the technology to improve the success of their units.
Marine Corps Captain Justin Carrasco, who is currently attending the Marine Corps University aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCBQ), recently created an innovative new 3D printed prototype that he hopes to test out soon.
Capt. Carrasco is enrolled in a 40-week resident course, called the Expeditionary Warfare School. It provides company grade Marine officers career-level training and professional military education, with an emphasis on warfighting skills, tactical decision-making, combined arms operations, and Marine Air Ground Task Forces in amphibious operations. The educational focus is to prepare Marine Captains to function as staff officers and commanders, by developing students’ leadership abilities and communication skills. Capt. Carrasco was specifically chosen for a research fellowship project, with a goal of designing, developing, and 3D printing a brand new shape for disposable water bottles.
Capt. Carrasco said, “My overall project consists of designing, developing and printing a 3D water bottle design in .5L and 1L capacities that maximizes logistical functionality while maintaining usability.”
If you thought the shape of regular water bottles was just fine, that is probably true in most cases. However, the new water bottle that Capt. Carrasco designed will actually minimize packaged water bottles’ logistical footprint while they are being transported in military convoys. His idea was born from his experience in Afghanistan as a motor transport platoon commander.
He explained, “I was responsible for planning and executing logistics convoys between forward operating bases and patrol bases for force sustainment.”
Vehicles in Capt. Carrasco’s platoon most often carried loads of palletized water bottles. Due to the round shape of the bottles, these water pallets were pretty unstable during travel. Since it was fairly difficult to stack pallets of round water bottles safely, the pallets would often break when traveling off road. Capt. Carrasco wanted to use his time at the Expeditionary Warfare School, and the available 3D printing equipment at the MCBQ Family Library, to use 3D printing and solve a very real problem. His new water bottle design, when compared to standard water bottles containing the same volume of liquid, has shown a 40% logistical footprint reduction.
“The new water bottle I am designing aims to improve the structural integrity of the water bottle as a system of the package and pallet. This should allow the pallets to double stack and improve their off road survivability,” said Capt. Carrasco.
When packaged and built into pallets for convoy transport, Capt. Carrasco’s new plastic water bottles can now use the majority of the available pallet space to hold water, since the Marines no longer have to contend with the hollow, unused space from the previous round water bottles. It also provides excellent surface area, as well as a more structurally sound case when fully packaged. Capt. Carrasco used the Quantico MakerSpace at the Family Library to bring his new water bottle concept to 3D printed life.
The Quantico MakerSpace, which had its grand opening in December of 2015, is equipped with Dremel Idea Builders. On the first and third Wednesdays of every month, the MakerSpace offers classes and demonstrations for all age levels, from a Coding Crash Course and Scratch programming class to mini STEAM lessons and a demonstration of Ozobots, which follow marker lines and obey commands. Every MakerSpace also features one 3D print that users and attendees can watch come to life. You can check out the MCBQ Base Library’s Facebook page to learn more.
One post on the Facebook page is a Marine Corps Community Services article about Captain Carrasco’s 3D printed water bottle; it’s noted that his story will hopefully inspire others to be creative makers themselves. Captain Carrasco was originally focused on reducing the logistical footprint of packaged water bottles, but he also believes that his idea could be used in other military supply applications as well. This is one of the many reasons why it’s a good idea to offer these types of 3D printing services and classes on military bases – you never know what kinds of problems can be solved if our men and women in uniform have access to this technology.[Sources/Images: Quantico Sentry, Quantico MakerSpace, MCCS Forward]