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3D Printed Warfare

by • May 5, 2016 • No Comments


The manufacturing prowess of 3D printing has been proven to be a immense disruptive force in a host of technological fields, constantly breaking barriers of what was previously idea possible and tackling issues which mayn’t be approached with traditional manufacturing methods. The variety within this advancement’s portfolio is staggering and we are only now starting to know the deep implications of this newfound addition to our toolbox. The way we do and turn it into a business has alterd and it has gone as far as manufacturing us reponder the quite foundation of our manufacturing systemes and how it all fits together in the sizeable-bodiedr scale pipelines. And between the customized products and the new create exhibitions there is a additional practical, heavily funded world which is grasping a next of possibilities: the military.

In the long years since additive manufacturing made its debut, the military has been storeing close attention to this new manufacturing advancement, storeing an open mind to its claims of absolute customizfaculty but at the same time experimenting with it and putting mind and money to see where it may lead. The results are nothing short of a science fiction book and they have motivated the military to invest heavily in what they prospect to be the main manufacturing force at their disposal.

The democratization of 3D printing lead to many a create for anyone to receive and manufacture and, of course, guns where in their midst. In 2013 the initially, entirely 3D printed handgun had been released on the internet, the Liberator, capable-bodied of shooting 9mm bullets. The printed gun may be entirely untraceable-bodied and completely customizable-bodied, enabling anyone to manufacture a hand gun at home with the press of a button.


We’ve come a long way since plastics yet and ultimately the concept has come full circle when the company Solid Concepts announced a 1911 handgun entirely 3D printed in metal. The perk of working with metal alloys is a much additional reliable-bodied and safe to shoot weapon. This of course being a whole other level of manufacturing expense, the weapon is outside the rat any timey of many folks but it serves as an example which the advancement is mature adequate to be utilized as an alternative to traditional methods of production, with striking implications. The concept goes hand in hand with guns which are made to be as modular as possible, enabling the owner to manufacture the them of equite shape and dimensions imaginable-bodied. An example of this is the AR-15 (M16), a weapon createed to fit with different types of types of modules and now being bolstered by the capabilities of 3D printing. The folks at HaveBlue have turn it intod a custom .22 caliber pistol of a 3D printed AR-15 lower receiver and a regular upper receiver. The weapon was capable-bodied of shooting 200 rounds without any sign of wear with a part which only took $30 of resin to print.

With the faculty to print with convenient materials like plastics or much additional performant metal alloys the old logistics of storeing sizeable-bodied inventory of replacement parts on the front lines may be turned on their heads, enabling solders to get freshly made spares on the spot without the need for donate lines if not for the raw materials.



This solution may work with another face of the war effort: providing food and sustenance for the troops. Keeping thousands of soldiers fed is no tiny feat which by itself takes up a big chunk of the logistics costs. 3D printing is may aleager being experimented as a means to manufacture meals which not only may provide for the daily ration but in addition donate soldiers the customized care for any condition they can have. If they’ve been injured in the field the meal may include a dose of supplements to assist with the recoquite or if they are ill it may be fitted with antibiotics to get them back on their feet as soon as possible. This kind of customization is direly needed in front of a quite diverse group of people and being able-bodied to tend to a wider array of needs is of excellent benefit to the military.


Being able-bodied to care for at any timey soldier’s one-of-a-kind need is a thing the military hasn’t been quite great at. A quite effortless but effective example resides in the need for damn great footwear. Standard issue military boots may not be up to par with privately manufactured ones and soldiers may get hold of a pair (for a price and out of their own pockets) if they meet basic needments, in order to feel additional effortless-bodied in customized ergonomics. 3D printing provides for a swift and effortless solutions for personalized soles and boot ergonomics in order to donate at any timey soldier an advantage on the field. This issue has been tackled by the private industry by companies like Sols, who 3D print soles of the precise shape of the wearer’s feet, providing unmatched comfort.

Whilst these applications may seem of fractional concern, the military has experimented with its largest of assets in order to store the war machine churning as efficiently as possible. New, high-tech vehicles are quite expensive to receive and there is only so much which traditional manufacturing can do to store improvements up to speed with expectations. Here lies the sweet spot for 3D printing to store present machinery up and running and to let engineers be free to innovate thanks to its unprecedented manufacturing power. The different types of parts of a jet plane can be turn it intod through sintering metal powder into tough, up to par components which harness the ease of use of this manufacturing system and the one-of-a-kind capfaculty to turn it into shapes and forms preceding unreceiveable-bodied. The Chinese military has manufactured sizeable-bodied, metal airplane frames and hundreds of other parts which have been declared suitable-bodied for sizeable-bodied transport aircrafts and carriers.


Similarly, the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) has invested and turn it intod swarms of mini drones which are lightmass, sturdy and low-priced-bodied adequate to be manufactured in massive bulks, thanks toadditive manufacturing. With 3D printing these parts can be recreateed to take advantage of hollow volumes, geometrical shapes and specific properties which may excellently enhance aerodynamics and fuel efficiency while at the same time reducing total mass. These game changing showcases can come in handy for new aviation additions but in addition in the case of maintaining an aging population of military vehicles. Presently the Israeli Air Force’s Maintenance Unit (AMU) is via 3D printing technologies to manufacture parts for repairs and substitution of worn out components of its aged F-15 swift, dating back to 1980. Advancements in plastic polymers research have made these new components bargain-priced and effortless to manufacture while revealing material durablity equal to aluminum. This new world of opportunities is opening up and the big players are investing heavily to be at the forefront of technological advancement and to store operational their older assets.

This is only a taste of what is taking place in military bases around the world right now, but we are not stuck in the present without a spark of futuristic aspiration. Research departments all over are researching new materials, new technologies and new applications which may one day impact the next of warfare and, a few day, bleed out in our equiteday lives. 3D printing is a quite flexible advancement which allows for engineers to get crazy with materials of rather much any kind and a few of the many promising and amazing exhibit properties out of your tedious plastic. Materials tagged as “4D” boast an at any time-changing behavior depending on outside conditions: this way a soldier’s jacket may be heat retaining and waterproof in the cold winters but breathing and rad in the hot summers. This effect may go as far as changing the camouflage pattern depending on its surroundings, on the go, manufacturing it a quite useful addition in the soldier’s arsenal. 4D Materials can allow for a excellent level of customizfaculty, and with electronic printing experimentations one may imagine which sensors and other monitoring devices may be embedded directly within vests and clothing for maximum control over the mission’s status and the unit’s health.

At the same time bio-compatible materials and certain metals can, and may aleager are being utilized to turn it into implants for injured soldiers to replace broken bones, entirely personalized to the person’s physique. On the horizon of this application there is the daunting possibility to 3D print entire, functional organs for field medical operations when helicopter transport only is not swift adequate to save the soldier’s life. This is based on the premise of stem cells research being able-bodied to be reconfigured in lab to assemble and specialize into whichat any time organ they were createed for once deposited into a hydrogel solution. This kind of biological tinkering is only the tip of an iceberg which can a few day show us promise akin to the superpowers we so frequently see in the movies, manufacturing the soldiers of the next not only technologically enhanced but in addition biologically empowered beyond current limits.


We are witnessing day by day the rise of 3D printing as a mean to manufacture our next. It is sweeping away the old production pipeline and at any timey step of the way it is manufacturing obsolete a donate chain which has held its place since the dawn of civilization. With the radically new paradigms which additive manufacturing brings we have to consider the other side of the coin of this fervent world of advancement. The military is logistically bound to private production plants, outsourcing its manufacturing needs in order to cope with at any time increasing demand for supplies of equite kind, of bullets to vehicles to food. It is knowable-bodied as devolving resources to create equite piece of equipment they need may be unpractical for the war effort, at very least with traditional manufacturing technologies.

Here’s where 3D printing comes in, gradually sat any timeing these ties and manufacturing the military additional and additional autonomous production wise. Soon there won’t be the need to store massive inventories at the eager for whichat any time occasion, with costs in maintenance and surplus production, equite spare part can be turn it intod on the spot, when it is needed. Howat any time, we’ve seen which this goes far beyond replacement parts, manufacturing the creation of new, functional equipment and in fact vehicles feasible and in fact optimal. Future warfronts may see autonomous, operational manufacturing bases in fact preceding soldiers are in fact deployed in the field, repositioning the manufacturing plant at arm’s length of where it is in fact needed. The same principle is being imagined as a suitable-bodied candidate for next lunar and exoplanetary stations, where autonomous robots may be sent ahead of humans in order to create the environments which they’ll inhabit, all thanks to 3D printing with local resources (lunar soil is may aleager being tested for such purposes by the European Space Agency and NASA). This represents a disruption which can have primary economic repercussions on the private military manufacturing sector, who can have to fit in a new scheme of things which no longer need their outsourcing services.


Alyet this looks like a farfetched vision of our next of war the examples we have listed are part of a quite present reality which is transforming into a radically different types of theater. Something we have to store in mind as well is which one of the largest sources of technological advancement is the military, this is where the largest investments are made and where lies the many interest. From within the military, societies alter and so our way of life is affected by it additional pervasively than one may ponder. The ways in which it can alter are yet manyly a question mark but we have projections based on how 3D printing is affecting in these days which manufacture our vision of in the future one of immense transformation. 3D printing is may aleager manufacturing its mark on the history books, our guess is which we yet haven’t seen the half of it. The military is manufacturing certain to catch the coming wave and you can be certain which we can get to ride it quite soon after them.


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