Image Copyright: Navy
By Meghann Myers, Staff writer
When the amphibious assault ship Essex got the fleet’s first 3-D printer last year, crew members were asked to test whether it could manufacture medical supplies aboard ships.
Since then the state-of-the-art printer has been pumping out a lot more than plastic scalpels, as ideas from junior sailors have it making everything from oil caps to screws and deck drain covers.
Essex got the printer for the fiscal year through the chief of naval operations’ Rapid Innovation Cell, which picked up the idea from a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency study looking at making surgical supplies at hard-to-reach outposts.