visibility_off Technology Grab Bag: Next-gen Tech for Your Challenge Entry

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The Marines want your help designing a modular logistics vehicle they can hack on-the-fly, from design to prototype to manufacture. Your approach must be as dynamic as the threats they face, convenient for deployment to anywhere in the world, and always ready to be reconfigured. When (not if) it breaks, the Marines need to be able to fix it, no matter how austere the environment.

To get you started, we’ve curated some next-generation technology that may be useful for your entry:

1. Additive Manufacturing: Additive encourages tinkering, breaking, and rebuilding-- exactly what the Marines need for a rapid innovation system.

  • Adaptable: Want a trunk shaped to fit an oversized load? A bigger engine? Another cup holder? Unlike traditional manufacturing, modifications like these in an additive environment won’t require re-designing the entire car.

  • Cheaper: When making small batches-- from a single prototype to a few customized products-- part-specific tooling can be expensive. Additive manufacturing can reduce or even eliminate the need for tooling, parts in the product assembly, and entire processes in the production line.

  • Scalable: Printing a prototype is as easy as printing the product, so why not test the final form? Innovation happens faster when there’s no penalty for scaling your production.

  • Portable: Imagine deploying a machine shop to a forward operating base-- all of the equipment needed for sawing, milling, drilling, forming, and finishing. Now imagine deploying an additive machine. Although over-simplified, this scenario highlights the versatility of additive in austere environments.

2. Technical Textiles: We’re not talking about your parents’ fabrics! Upgrade cloths and flexible surfaces with semiconductor functionality.

  • Multifunctional: Want a camouflage windcheater that also stores energy? Now there’s a fiber for that. Today’s textiles can sense their surroundings, communicate to the outside world, store and convert energy, and more-- all while providing the conventional qualities of textiles.

  • Flexible: as payloads change in size and shape, cloth can easily blanket whatever the Marines need to transport.

  • Length and uniformity at cost: Technical textiles start with a semiconductor device, which is then drawn down to kilometers of uniform fiber-- a cheap way to quickly scale functionality.

3. Lightweighting: To ensure there’s always room for one more-- ammo can, water jug, Marine, etc.-- the vehicle and modules themselves must be as lightweight as can be.

  • Materials: Can a traditional alloy be replaced with a new lightweight metal? What about a plastic composite or a metal foam?

  • Form: New ways of making, like additive manufacturing, enable structures that would have otherwise been impossible to fabricate. Achieve the same functionality with less weight penalty through generative design.

What cool tech are you considering as you prepare your challenge entry? Let us know by commenting on this post!

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