Additive Manufacturing

Considerations for the Development of Additively Manufactured (AM) Metallic Armor

by William James Slocumb; Brandon Holm; Vic Kelsey


An examination of the current state-of-the-art in additive manufacturing (AM) of metallic armor products for ground vehicles was conducted. Primary barriers to the implementation of AM on ground systems are related to elevated cost compared to traditional fabrication techniques, a lack of public engineering data, and lack of specifications. Initial ballistic testing against 0.30-cal. armor-piercing (AP)M2 and 0.30-cal. fragment-simulating projectile (FSP) threats was conducted on a range of test coupons made from Inconel 718 and Ti-6Al-4V (Grade 23) extra-low-interstitial (ELI) materials made by direct metal laser melting (DMLM), wire-laser directed-energy deposition (WL-DED), and wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM). Initial attempts at evaluating lot-to-lot variation, machine-to-machine variation, process-to-process variation, and the effect of as-printed surface roughness on ballistic protection were made to direct future research and development. Given the elevated cost and complexity of these products, a series of recommendations for further development are made to speed implementation of AM for ground system armor. Collaboration between original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Combat Capabilities Development Center (CCDC) laboratories is advocated.