MPH History

The Army faces a major challenge in equipment maintenance and combat readiness in today’s environment. The Army has readiness standards to maintain, but has a large aging weapon system inventory. This has led to a demand for legacy system parts, and parts from manufacturers that, in some cases, no longer exist. Also, because the Army is purchasing fewer systems, their requirements are losing priority thereby increasing the lead times, particularly for forged and cast items. Additionally, the Army is poised to introduce new systems into the fleet that pose logistical challenges in order to support them at the time of fielding The development of the MPH is meant to address this challenge by significantly reducing the lead time needed for replacement parts. It should be noted, that the Army is working on development of advanced logistical systems for addressing this challenge and that the MPH is meant to support these new systems as well as current supply systems rather than replace them.

The rapid prototyping method chosen for the technology demonstrations was selective laser sintering with the Sinterstation 2500+ made by DTM Corporation. The Selective Laser Sintering process was chosen because it works with a wide range of materials. The SLS machine can produce parts using metal, plastic, rubber or ceramic materials. It has a build chamber of (x, y, z) = (13″ x 11″ x 17″), which is comparable to other rapid prototyping machines.
The SLS machine includes a computer station with application software that runs on a Windows NT platform, making the interface familiar to its users. The “drag and drop” part placement provides a simpler setup when compared with other rapid prototyping application software, which involve manually entering coordinates to position the part. Parts can be nested and stacked during the setup to allow for increased productivity, and parts can be added or deleted during a build.

In addition to the SLS, the technology demonstration trailer also featured a CNC vertical machining center (VMC). The Cincinnati Arrow 500 was selected because its’ capability to perform a variety of operations, while still being a compact VMC fit within the size constraints of the technology demonstration trailer . The Arrow 500 features a build table of 20″ x 30″ and a usable work space of (x, y, z) = (20″ x 20″ x 20″). The Arrow 500 is a versatile 4-axis machine featuring 21 tools, and can perform a wide variety of machining operations, including drilling, boring, reaming, tapping, and milling. The Arrow 500 is controlled by the A2100 CNC system, which includes Windows NT graphics, touch screen technology, and a handheld remote control First Prototype Equipment

The technology demonstration trailer served as a demonstrator to showcase state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies. In addition to the manufacturing equipment on board, the demonstration trailer contained a theater, which was used for presentations and showing the MPH video.

The first prototype RMS does not include a theater. The machines incorporated are a Directed Material Deposition System (DMD)®, and a multi-task machining center.
Power requirements were not a problem with the technology demonstration trailer. The total electrical input necessary for trailer was 66.5kVA at 208V. A 75kVA diesel generator was used to power the trailer.

The generator requirements for the RMS prototypes, when powered from a single generator is double that of the technology demonstration trailer. The National Automotive Center is working closely to develop a hybrid electric truck to both power the RMS and move the containerized system.