Additive Manufacturing for Future Military Equipment

defence enterprise
Proposals for design concepts and a proof of principle, with a working demonstrator, are invited in this CDE themed Call which examines how, from a military perspective, additive manufacturing techniques could be used to quickly add functionality to structures (rigid or flexible) enabling additional functions to be undertaken.

Extended Description

The Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) is part of the UK Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), run by the Ministry of Defence, and is aligned with the Government’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI). The CDE provides funding for novel, high-risk research from higher education organisations and a range of technology providers to enable the development of products and process which place the UK Armed Forces and national security at an advantage.

This CDE themed competition seeks projects to demonstrate how innovative additive manufacturing technologies could significantly enhance the performance of future military equipment. The competition is specifically seeking demonstrations of how additive manufacturing techniques could be used to quickly add functionality to structures (rigid or flexible) so that they can undertake more than one task.

Additive manufacturing is the layer-by-layer deposition of materials using digitally controlled machine tools. The term includes a wide range of techniques, including 3D printing, direct melting techniques (such as laser and ebeam) and wire-feed processes. Additive manufacturing has seen a wide use within the commercial sector and has been identified as a potentially disruptive technology for a broad range of military applications. It is assumed that additive manufacturing will eventually provide MOD with the ability to build, adapt or modify equipment close to the point of use. This competition seeks to understand whether additive manufacturing can also be used to produce materials or constructs with enhanced functionality.

CDE not only seeks to meet technology challenges but to understand how those challenges align to a broad range of military applications. Proposals should address at least one challenge, could address more than one of the challenges, but do not have to address all the following challenges:

  • Challenge 1 – Embedded Sensors.
  • Challenge 2 – Embedded Rechargeable Power Sources.
  • Challenge 3 – Integrated Electronics.
  • Challenge 4 – Integrated Novel Camouflage or Stealth Technologies.
  • Challenge 5 – Rapidly Building, Modifying and Adapting Bespoke Military Equipment.
  • Challenge 6 – Using Additive Manufacturing to Mimic Biological Systems.

As well as addressing at least one technology challenge, every proposal must explain how it will add functionality to military equipment and/or processes. The following are examples of military applications of particular interest to the competition (the list is not exhaustive; proposals that explicitly give alternative applications to defence or security requirements will be equally considered):

  • Maritime Environment:
    • Reduce the cost, time and complexity of manufacture to allow capabilities to be fielded more flexibly in
      the future.
    • Increasing maintenance instrumentation in maritime platforms and platform systems.
    • Employ platform and task group level maintenance and repair capabilities to restore the fighting
      effectiveness of platforms after damage.
    • Support humanitarian and disaster relief missions by allowing the manufacture of components to
      restore vital life support following disaster.
  • Land Environment:
    • Using additive manufacturing to reduce the burden on the dismounted soldier.
    • Allow unmanned vehicle technologies to be realised.
  • Ballistic Testing and Injury Modelling:
    • Develop complex muscle and bone simulants for military testing.

This competition has a 2-phase approach. Following a review of the Phase 1 deliverables, promising concepts may be selected for Phase 2 funding to increase the maturity of the concept, and produce higher technology readiness level (TRL) demonstrators.

Eligibility Criteria

Academic and industrial organisations based in the UK and overseas are eligible to submit a proposal.

Value Notes

A total of £750,000 of funding is available for the first phase of this competition. There is no cap on the value of proposals but it is more likely that for the first phase a larger number of lower-value proposals (eg £40,000 to £80,000) will be funded rather than a small number of higher-value proposals.

Proposals should focus on a short, proof-of-concept phase typically, but not exclusively, 6-8 months’ in duration with deliverables completed by 30 June 2015.


The following will not be funded:

  • Projects where the main output is a literature review.
  • Proposals that seek to develop heat exchangers.
  • Phase 1 proposals that do not include an outline of what a possible second phase of work may address.

Terms and Conditions

Proposals are assessed using the MOD’s Performance Assessment Framework (PAF).

The four main criteria for assessment are:

  • Operational Relevance – meeting identified requirements, as described by the Defence Technology Plan (DTP).
  • Likelihood of Exploitation – potential, likelihood, being delivered, achieved.
  • Builds Critical Technical Capability to meet Future UK Needs – meeting anticipated requirements, as described by the DTP.
  • Scientific Quality and/or Innovation.

Application Procedure

The competition’s key dates are:

  • Competition open to applications: 28 May 2014.
  • Network/briefing event in Cardiff: 24 June 2014. Registration for the event is via the CDE website.
  • Post-launch Webinar: 4 July 2014. Registration for the Webinar is via the CDE website.
  • Phase 1 deadline for applications: 5pm, 28 August 2014.
  • Phase 1 contract placement initiated and feedback provided: by 15 October 2014.

Proposals must be submitted via the CDE online portal by 5pm on the closing date. Proposals can be developed through the portal where forms are available. Additional attachments can be added but the key aspects of the proposal must be submitted on the web forms. With CDE contracts, the intellectual property (by default) stays with the contractor.

– Information provided by Grantfinder, Idox