Chief Warrant Officer 2 Justin Trejo, a project officer with the Program Manager for Ammunition at Marine Corps Systems Command, displays a 3D-printed headcap used to employ a mine-clearance system. Photo by Tonya Smith/ U.S. Marine Corps
Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Members of the U.S. Marine Corps 3D-printed a headcap for the rocket motor used to detonate a M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge, or MICLIC, the branch announced on Monday.
The headcap is part of a Mk22 5-inch rocket motor that propels and detonates the MICLIC, which clears a one-vehicle wide lane through minefields and other obstacles, according to the Marine Corps.
The headcap is the latest item the Marine Corps has 3D-printed as it explores the usefulness of the technology for Marines and soldiers in the field.
"The process of 3D printing allows Marines to create a physical object from a digital design," Chief Warrant Officer 2 Justin Trejo said Monday in a press release.
"We essentially created a 3D-printed product and incorporated it into a highly explosive system," said Treyo, a project officer with the Program Manager for Ammunition at Marine Corps Systems Command.
Trejo said that Marines used 3D printing to create the headcap for efficiency because traditional methods were more timely and costly.
He added that 3D printing enables the warfighter to be "lighter and faster," which is critical to supporting various missions.
Marines have been working with Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona Division to produce the 3D-printed headcap since 2019, culminating in the printing of a stainless steel version earlier this year.
A prototype headcap was evaluated in a test event at Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz., which Trejo said performed as expected.
"The rocket motor fired off just as intended as the line charge detonated as it is supposed to, which was a significant moment for us," Trejo said.
Caleb Hughes, an engineer who supported the Yuma testing event, said 3D printing is the wave of the future.
"The previous process of traditional manufacturing is outdated, while 3D printing is a more modern manufacturing technique," Hughes said. "I truly believe 3D printing is the next generation of the Marine Corps."
Marines have previously used 3D printing to meet other needs, including successfully testing in late 2018 and early 2019 3D-printed impellers, which expel dust from tanks' engines to keep filters clean.
In the summer of 2017, the Marines announced start of field testing of mobile 3D-printing lab for spare parts, and that the test would run through September 2017.
The Marines announced in October 2017 that the 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment at Camp Lejeune, N.C. became the first unit in the Corps to possess a 3D printer for spare parts.