May 28, 2015 | By Simon

Although it doesn’t need to be said that the effects of war are devastating, an often-overlooked side effect of war has been in the various weapons that are left behind in areas that are mistakenly deemed as ‘safe’.  

Among others, this includes areas that may be covered in landmines that are invisible to the naked eye.  Currently, the detection and removal process of  antipersonnel landmines is a serious problem from all sides of the political, economical, environmental and humanitarian spectrum.  While there are still thousands of landmines in existence, more than ever is being done to help rid areas of them and other explosive devices - thanks in-part to 3D printing.

The Golden West Humanitarian Foundation - an international nonprofit that focuses on clearing mines and bombs after a war - recently collaborated with both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design to develop a better and cost-effective way of training specialists in locating and disposing the explosives.  The result is a kit made up of accurate 3D printed replicas of the ten most common detonation fuses found in the explosives left behind after a war that they’re calling Advanced Ordnance Teaching Materials (AOTM).

The hallmark product in the lineup - the Standard Ordnance Training Set (SOTS) - includes all ten of the instructional aids that each demonstrate the mechanisms commonly found in ordnance fuzing - albeit scaled up from their original size to better illustrate the functions of the small parts.  Thanks to the ability to 3D print in multiple colors, the designers behind the kits were able to print specific components with unique color codes to help further streamline the learning process.  

Over 1,000 hours were spent creating the 3D models - particularly in translating the much-smaller fuses into larger-scale replicas through modeling hundreds of small pieces from scratch.  Because the models are reverse-engineered based on the real-world dimensions of the actual products, all of the mechanical functions including gears and pistons actually move while the final color scheme helps communicate similar pieces from one model to the next: blue is the fuse body, white is the arming components, red is explosive-inducing and yellow is the explosives.   

Previously, 2D printed schematics have been used to help train those who defuse bombs and other explosives, however this method of learning can be problematic due to the 2D nature of the information that is ultimately used on a 3D object.  

Additionally, many of the locals who are trained to do bomb disposal work or are otherwise trained to better understand the explosives in their area don’t come from a formal education background and have difficulties learning the concepts presented in the printed schematics.  By utilizing the 3D printed models, Golden West is able to help teach these communities with more communicative examples that make sense.  

So far, the team has received two rounds of funding from the U.S. Department of State, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement - which has ultimately helped them refine their project into a high-quality deliverable not often seen with 3D printed products.  


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive