Metal Magic: Marines provide manufacturing capabilities to 3rd MLG
By Lamce Cpl. Isabella Ortega
3rd Marine Logistics Group
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Several 3-D-printed assault vehicle models sit on display in the General Support Maintenance Company (GSM), 3rd Maintenance Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, as a display of advanced capabilities, Nov. 21 2017, at Camp Kinser, Okinawa, Japan. The Dreamer Flashforge 3-D printer is regularly used at GSM to test form, fit and functionality of equipment and military systems before the finished product is produced out of metal.
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Gunnery Sgt. Justin A. Horn, the General Support Maintenance Company metal shop chief, holds untapped replacements for the removed, old rusty bolts, which will be fabricated to match the originals, Nov. 21, 2017, at Camp Kinser Okinawa, Japan. Marines at the GSM, 3rd Maintenance Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, make replacement hardware by using the TM1 CNC Mill machine, a mobile unit which allows the GSM Marines to accomplish their mission both at their duty stations and on exercise or deployment.
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Gunnery Sgt. Justin A. Horn, right, the General Support Maintenance Company metal shop chief and native of Greene, N.Y., and Lance Cpl. Jason Lowes, left, a repair shop machinist and native of Marion, Mich., use software programs to draft their metal work before manufacturing it, Nov. 21, 2017, at Camp Kinser, Okinawa, Japan. Marines at the GSM, 3rd Maintenance Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, use computer-aided drafting programs that generate and send codes to their machines in order to fabricate hardware.
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Cpl. Devin Perrell, a repair shop machinist and native of Bear Creek, N.C., removes a bolt stuck in a Humvee's pitman arm by drilling a hole through it and using an extractor to pull it out, Nov. 21, 2017, at Camp Kinser, Okinawa, Japan. The pitman arm is the piece of a vehicle that holds the wheel hub to the vehicle itself. The vehicle hardware was given to General Support Maintenance Company (GSM), 3rd Maintenance Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group for repairs.
CAMP KINSER, Okinawa, Nov. 22, 2017 —
“What we do is important to the MLG because we provide support they can’t get anywhere else,” said Gunnery Sgt. Justin A. Horn, the GSM metal shop chief, regarding the capabilities offered to units. “With machining and manufacturing capabilities, we’re able to reproduce a lot of parts they buy through the supply system.”
From a water jet to a 3-D printer, the GSM shop uses a variety of machines to fabricate parts and tools for temporary or permanent repairs for anything 3rd Maint. Bn. needs. One machine in particular, the Dreamer Flashforge 3-D printer, GSM Marines use regularly for quality control of their products before it is made out of metal. Horn, a Greene, N.Y. native, said the 3-D printer tests the fit, form and functionality of the object as many times as necessary before being produced so that metal is not wasted. One kilogram of the material in the 3-D printer costs roughly $35, the same amount of metal costs 10 times that amount.
“Paper costs cents, metal costs dollars,” Horn said, also adding how the 3-D printer saves a lot more man hours by being able to hit print and walk away.
Repair shop machinists also use the computer-aided drawing program, Mastercam, to produce metal work. This program sends a code to different machines, one of which is the TM1 CNC Mill, which then reads the code and cuts the image out of a piece of metal. Mastercam allows the Marines to electronically draft and manufacture machine parts that are accurately measured and scaled to the millimeter.
“My favorite part [of this job] is always having new challenges, different parts that are complex and hard to design, anything with organic geometry and things that we don’t have actual measurements for,” said Horn. “When someone brings in some stuff scrawled on a napkin or a part broken in half, that’s the fun part, trying to reverse engineer a piece.”
GSM makes many different parts for military vehicles and weapon systems in 3rd Maint. Bn., such as bolts, brackets and hinges. What many people may not know about the shop is with GSM Marines repairing or reverse engineering parts, 3rd Maint. Bn. is able to replace their parts quicker and cheaper than they would through standard purchasing methods.
For Lance Cpl. Connor Bastarache, a repair shop machinist and Penacook, N.H. native, being able to take a hunk of metal and make any part from scratch is his favorite part of his military occupational specialty.
“I feel like more people should know about machinists, welders and the metal shop in general because we’re extremely important,” said Bastarache. “Anything [someone] could possibly need that is made out of metal or needs to be fixed we can do for them in probably a quicker time than ordering the part themselves.”
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Marine Corps website.