A fortuitous meeting between Mark Schlein of the Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) and Douglas Brunelle of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) turned into a rewarding partnership between two federal agencies that resulted in costeffective safety improvements to specialized ATF equipment and enhanced capabilities at ECBC. The opportunity and partnership evolved at a symposium hosted by the Regional Additive Manufacturing Partnership of Maryland (RAMP MD), which works to build the additive manufacturing industry in that state. Schlein, Associate Director of the ECBC Advanced Design and Manufacturing Division (ADM), and Brunelle, of the Digital Media Division, ATF Office of Public and Governmental Affairs, met at the symposium and discussed ECBC’s design, build and support capabilities and their application to an ATF test project.
Following the symposium, ECBC hosted Brunelle at the ADM facility, where he shared the test project specifications: ATF needed a carbon fire bushing, not commercially available, designed for use in scopes and photography equipment carried by field agents. During this initial site visit, ADM designed, developed, and fabricated a low-cost device using additive manufacturing capabilities (3D printing) to resolve an immediate ATF need. The rapid design, prototyping, and delivery of the part highlighted ECBC’s technical expertise and capabilities, which ultimately led to the formation of an Interagency Agreement (IAA) whereby ECBC ADM would provide services (i.e., 3D printing, 3D scanning, interactive 3D models, virtual interactive environments, additive manufacturing design, traditional manufacturing, concept service, and packaging and product development) to the ATF.
Based on this initial success, ECBC has supported other ATF groups, including the National Center for Explosives Training and Research (NCETR) in Huntsville, Alabama, which needed training devices replicated to support its training programs. An ECBC engineer was sent to the site with laser scanning equipment, and he effectively replicated the training items using 3D printing techniques. The final products were put on display at the NCETR facility, used in training sessions, and shown to all students attending courses dealing with those types of explosives. In addition, ECBC has also developed a fuse removal tool to support the ATF’s dismantle and detonation capabilities. The tool combined traditional and additive manufacturing capabilities to develop a robust tool that could be used in extreme conditions. ECBC also supported the ATF Certified Explosives Specialist (CES) program by developing and assembling glass impregnated nylon disassembly tools. ECBC has supported the development of other tools for various groups within the ATF. The ATF Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) has partnered with the ECBC team to test the ability of creating or recreating firearm components for testing and possible use in legal matters. The ECBC-ATF partnership combines engineers and 3D technicians with agents and laboratory minds to provide essential services to the ATF mission, which has allowed the ATF to adopt low-cost solutions quickly. The benefit to ECBC, from a practical application perspective, is meeting the project challenges and applying knowledge gained to the ECBC mission: protection of the warfighter and the homeland.
Contact: Mark Schlein, (410) 436-5707, [email protected]