Military innovations come to life at MAMC

The Marshall Advanced Manufacturing Center (MAMC) has a storied reputation of assisting manufacturers and entrepreneurs, but what many people don’t know is that MAMC is a center for military innovation as well.

As one of a handful of designated makerspaces for the National Security Innovation Network, MAMC provides direct manufacturing assistance to the U.S. military and works with private companies to develop Defense-related technologies.

Forcyte, a Missouri-based producer of autonomous power, command & control innovations for unmanned systems and IoT, was referred to MAMC by the National Security Innovation Network. The company had developed a concept for a mobile drone launcher and charging station in response to a U.S. Department of Defense request for proposals but did not have access to the technology or manufacturing expertise to produce the innovation.

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Morgan Smith, MAMC design engineer, transformed Forcyte’s rough sketch of the mobile drone launcher and charging station into computer-aided-design (CAD) drawings so prototypes could be manufactured. Forcyte also used the CAD drawings to provide status updates to its funders.

Design of the original concept was altered to ensure strength and durability while reducing the weight from approximately 125 pounds as conceived to around 45 pounds. This is important because the unit is designed to be carried on the backs of soldiers, potentially many miles over rough terrain in extreme conditions.

MAMC engineers and technicians used the center’s advanced manufacturing technology and technical expertise to create components from aluminum, stainless steel and 3D-printed polymers. They connected Forycte with long-time client Carbon Fiber Composites of Ona, which manufactured the carbon fiber case that holds the electronic components. MAMC staff then assembled the working prototype.

Dylan Brophy, chief technology officer for Forcyte, who travelled to MAMC to work with engineers and technicians on design and production of the mobile drone launcher and charging station, was happy with the results.

“Our project would not be complete if we didn’t get this sort of assistance [from the Marshall Advanced Manufacturing Center],” Brophy said. “The project wouldn’t have been nearly as sophisticated. [MAMC] allowed us to use more advanced manufacturing processes and created a better design.”

The Forcyte mobile drone launcher and charging station is just one of many military-related innovations with which MAMC has assisted. Some are classified, like the project that Smith and MAMC’s Deacon Stone recently assisted with that took them to sea to work on another innovative design to improve military readiness.

“As a design engineer, I get the satisfaction of bringing innovations of all kinds to life,” Smith said. “Every project is different and presents its own challenges, but my involvement in these projects that help contribute to our nation’s defense invokes a real sense of pride. That’s very special.”

May 30, 2023

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