Nov 6, 2015 | By Alec

Over the past few years, the military branches of various nations have been adopting metal 3D printing technology as a cost-effective solution to quickly manufacture a wide range of parts. At the beginning of the year, the Chinese military even kicked off a test for warships to carry 3D printers around to manufacture spare parts in times of trouble. Of course, no military branch is happy to share its equipment secrets with the rest of the world, but reports have started to surface that the South Korean military is now also adopting metal 3D printing. According to news agency Yonhap, the country’s Ministry of Defense is using 3D printers to manufacture parts for the Air Force and the Army.

The innovative 3D printing technology is in part adopted to save costs and in part to reduce the dependency on foreign-made parts, which might after all not be available in times of increased political tension. Some discontinued parts have also been hard to get, and can better be 3D printed in some cases. But the cost effectiveness can hardly be denied. European-made transport aircraft speaker covers, which were obviously being imported, were also expensive and time consuming to make. Costing up to 700,000 Won ($612 USD) and taking up to seven months to manufacture, these parts can now be produced in Korea in 4~5 hours, for as little as 40,000 Won ($35 USD). Now those are savings that justify investments.

Of course, a lot of parts cannot yet be manufactured with metal 3D printing technology, and they might not be as structurally sound in some cases, but in times of decreasing budgets saving is always high on the agenda. According to press reports, the South Korean Ministry of Defense is already looking into expanding the range of 3D printing options in the near future. Training aircraft parts have also already been 3D printed, reportedly saving the Ministry up to 3 million Won ($2600 USD). Other plans, such as helicopter parts (19 pairs of hinges, to be precise), are also on the agenda.

This report is part of an interesting trend of military 3D printing applications – a move that has typically provides the budget for fast paced innovation and technology development, so it will be very interesting to see where it takes things. It’s not known if the South Korean military is also looking to 3D print actually lethal parts like rifles and tanks, but it wouldn’t surprise us if that also became commonplace in a few years from now.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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