How Do You Make a Howitzer Less Heavy?
Large nuts that used to be solid metal are now grown with a honeycomb structure on the inside for valuable weight savings.
With a piece of military artillery, you might think that more mass is better. In fact, an upper limit on mass is a critical factor in the design of the M777 howitzer. Because this weapon is transported via helicopter, it cannot exceed a strict weight limit. That means that when military engineers want to make an enhancement to the design of this gun, they have to find compensating weight savings for any new component they want to add.
Manufacturing contractor Imperial Machine & Tool Co. recently found a way to give these engineers some freedom. By replacing solid metal nuts on this gun with nuts composed of a honeycomb structure on the inside (each nut is about as big as the palm of a man’s hand), this shop was able to cut the weight of each of these nuts in half.
The honeycomb nuts were grown through additive manufacturing. They would have been impossible to produce any other way.
Imperial Machine & Tool Co. is a decades-old manufacturer built on CNC machining that sees investment in additive manufacturing as being key to its continued success in the future. Read more about this company’s exploration of AM.
Lead photo courtesy U.S. Navy.