3D technology is being used around the world in nearly every industry you can imagine.
From the aerospace industry including unmanned aerial systems, the automotive industry, to the medical field including end-use devices, construction, and much more.
The United States Military is no different.
The US armed forces are currently utilizing current 3D technology to expand existing systems, parts, and end-use materials, all while testing emerging technologies in order to push boundaries and to take 3D printing capabilities to a whole new level.
When 3D printing technologies first came into use, the technology was universally known as additive manufacturing. The base technology is to take digital files, and turn them into physical objects.
This concept has led the technology into unforeseen spaces throughout virtually every market and industry.
It was recently demonstrated that entire homes can be built from the ground up. Life-saving medical devices and parts are being made for real-world use. Automobile engines and parts are being made that will eventually transform the way cars are built.
The world of manufacturing is being turned on its head as faster production and cheaper materials means greater consumer accessibility, a bigger market, and lower costs for the buyer.
In light of these leaps, the United States Government is not only aware of this technology, but is also putting it to good use in order to transform our military.
The United States armed Forces are currently testing, pushing boundaries, and creating end-use components, systems, and full-fledged working equipment that is ready for field use.
In May of 2017, the United States Army successfully fired a working grenade from a fully functional grenade launcher – both 3D printed.
However, this is not the first time the military dabbled in this technology. Not by a long shot. In fact, as far back as 2014, the United States Navy installed and equipped an industrial 3D printer on board its ships to print working spare parts for both the ship and its weapons systems.
The Army and the Navy are not the only branches of the US Armed Forces to have such strong ties to 3D printing applications. The Marines and the Airforce have also created numerous policies investing in, testing, and exploring end-use applications for their respective needs.
There have been a number of advantages highlighted by 3D printing by the U.S. Military.
First and foremost, the simplification of logistics has been demonstrated. Rather than transporting and storing spare parts for equipment, vehicles, weapons, and more, 3D printing has allowed for the simple transportation of a 3D printer, the raw materials, and the digital files for blueprints, thus, eliminating thousands of pounds worth of components and the storage need for those components.
Specialized training for soldiers in 3D printing technology has demonstrated the ability to print customized parts or end-use equipment from specs made on-the-spot. This results in greater levels of innovation and solutions for unique situations as they arise unforeseen.
The end result is clear: The Military is going to continue investing in 3D printing technology because of the clear-cut advantages to units, individual soldiers, and the military as a whole.
This technology has demonstrated its ability to speed up production, cut costs, and supply working components, parts, and end-use equipment as they are needed. These advantages will ultimately allow the United States Armed Forces a greater level of battle readiness while cutting costs for the American taxpayer.