Marines 3D-Print a Rocket Headcap and Put It Into a Highly Explosive System, Works

The U.S. Marine Corps has successfully 3D-printed a headcap for a rocket motor and put it in a highly explosive system. Precisely, it was used to detonate an M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC), a rocket-projected explosive line charge that provides a demining capability.
CWO2 Justin Trejo, a project officer with the Program Manager for Ammunition at Marine Corps Systems Command, displays a 3D-printed headcap for a rocket motor 7 photos
Photo: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Tonya Smith
A Mine Clearing Line Charge explodes as 1st Tank Battalion tanks prepare to assault through their objective during a portion of the combined arms exerciseU.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Charles Matte, a machinist with 1st Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, mills an impeller fan on a computer numerically controlled lathe machineAn iRobot 310 with 3D-printed lens coversJustin Trejo, a project officer with the Program Manager for Ammunition at Marine Corps Systems Command, displays a 3D-printed headcapICON Vulcan at workICON Vulcan at work
In 2019, the Program Manager for Ammunition at Marine Corps Systems Command started looking into alternative manufacturing options for the rocket headcap. The team cooperated with the Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona Division to create a 3D-printed version after dozens of hours of research, development, and testing of a prototype headcap.

The 3D-printed stainless steel solution was created by NSWC Corona earlier this year. The product was evaluated by PM Ammo representatives in Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona. Launching the rocket motor to detonate the mine-clearing line charge was part of the evaluation.

"The rocket motor fired off just as intended and the line charge detonated as it is supposed to, which was a significant moment for us," said Justin Trejo, Project officer with PM Ammo at Marine Corps Systems Command.

The successful event demonstrated the efficacy of 3D printing, which is a subject of interest for the Department of Defense. Over the years, skilled Marines and civilians have employed additive manufacturing to develop everything from unique maintenance tools to a reinforced concrete bridge.

According to Caleb Hughes, an engineer from MCSC's PM Ammo who participated in the Yuma testing event, 3D printing has the potential to save the Marine Corps time and money. Justin Trejo considers that additive manufacturing corresponds with the vision of Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger in that 3D printing improves Marine's battlefield efficiency.

He added that the manufacturing strategy allows the warfighter to be lighter and faster, both of which are critical attributes need to support a variety of operations.

"We're able to create equipment parts and other assets for whatever particular mission we're engaged in,"
he added.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows products realized by the U.S. Marine Corps using 3D-printing.

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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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