THE CALL FOR “DISRUPTIVE THINKERS” IS BEING ANSWERED

The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, issued a call to action to all “disruptive thinkers” within the Corps. A cultural evolution, filled with Marines that can come up with solutions to accelerate ideas to decision makers, that will lead the Corps into a new age of innovation.

Marines in Okinawa have answered that call by leading the way in planning and implementing how 3D printing may help keep the Marine Corps engaged and ready in a highly contested area like the Indo-Pacific Theater.

Two Marines, Sgt. Adrian J. Willis and Lance Cpl. Tracey Taylor, computer technicians with 7th Communications Battalion, III MEF Information Group are utilizing 3D printing technology to increase their unit’s readiness.

“With this technology, we can reduce the time we wait to receive parts eliminating any complacency that may breed from that downtime,” said Willis, from Las Vegas, Nev. “It allows us to reconcile vulnerabilities by creating the parts locally, streamlining the process.”

Taylor, originally from Germany and recruited from San Antonio, Texas, is in charge of operating the 3D printer and assists in reproducing parts while Willis is in charge of expanding the printer’s capabilities. Willis will also establish the unit’s procedures in the future.

Operators create 3D files of desired products like caps and other necessary parts through sketches and software. Once created, Taylor says it’s as easy as pressing print.

The printer localizes the maintenance process and reduces the time it takes to receive the desired part. In the past, shipping delays or discontinued parts would weaken a unit’s readiness. Innovations like 3D printing allow units to extend the life cycle of equipment and maintain readiness of gear, saving the Marine Corps a lot of time and money.

“The printer will help us increase our war fighting capabilities, allowing us to assess and fix problems instantly,” Taylor said. “We can just print anything out right then and there.”

Willis and Taylor both taught themselves how to work with the 3D printer and its program. They have taken the initiative to make the Marine Corps’ use of the printer even better providing a path for future innovation within the Department of Defense.

“What I’m hoping is that, with all these open source platforms that I am using to develop these procedures,” said Willis, “I can introduce them to the Marine Corps and then the Corps can develop and sustain it from there.”

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4 thoughts on “THE CALL FOR “DISRUPTIVE THINKERS” IS BEING ANSWERED”

  1. In the Old Corps, ‘disruptive thinking’ involved large amounts of alcohol and bar fights with sailors, or tossing chipping irons over the side of the APA or LSD. But then we had PRC-6 (the original cell phone) and PRC-10 radios, M1 Garands,10-inch bayonets, M1911A1 pistols, and M422 Mighty Mites. Boot bands to blouse our trousers was about as high-tech as we got …

  2. What does this do to the supply chain? Way back in 1970, as radio techs we had to send gear back from Viet Nam to Barstow to be mothballed. We had many radios sitting on shelves awaiting parts. We wanted to strip the soon to be mothballed radios for the parts needed to get all the shelved radios up and running, then tag the mothball radios with what parts were removed. We were refused because this would screw up the supply system which had some sort of “master roster” of all the radio parts and how many per year had to be ordered from manufactures. If we stripped the parts needed, it would throw off the amount of each part needed annually, and thus down the road parts would be needed that wouldn’t be any place in the supply pipe line. If units are allowed to print what they need, will that screw up the supply “master roster”? Or has the Corps changed the system that was in use way back then?

  3. Out standing. Couple of NCOs thought it out. They try it. Tell you that the. U. S. Army. U. S. Navy. U. S. Air Force. U. S. Coast Guards. Are still left in Thea stone age.

  4. First of all, I want to congratulate Sgt WILLIS and LCpl TAYLOR, They have 1st class minds and aren’t afraid to use them. The Marine Corps needs many more like these two. In the old Corps (1951-1976) they would have been lucky to have escaped with Office Hours for defacing a piece of equipment….Semper Fidelis guys, keep ’em going…..

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