Using a special 3D printer called ACES, or Automated Construction of Expeditionary Structures, U.S. Marines from the 1st Marine Logistics Group, along with the Marine Corps Systems Command’s Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell and the Army Corps of Engineers, created a concrete footbridge in December.

The Marines printed and assembled the bridge during the service’s annual Steel Knight exercise to demonstrate the ability to use concrete 3D printing in an operational environment, the service reported. The Marines trained on how to operate ACES and incorporate new equipment into the process.

According to the service, the bridge is groundbreaking. “This was the first time in the U.S. or western hemisphere that a bridge was 3D printed onsite rather than in a factory setting,” said Capt. Matthew Friedell, USMC, Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell (AMOC) project officer.

The goal throughout the process was to use fewer people, Capt. Friedell noted. “Ultimately, we want one person standing there who hits ‘print,’ and the machine does all the work,” he said. “We’re getting there.”

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