Oct 26, 2017 | By Julia

The future of sophisticated, tech-driven warfare might be here sooner than we think. A division of the U.S. marines has officially begun to 3D print and test small explosives, a US Defense Department blog reported yesterday. While only in its initial prototyping phase, the results have been overwhelmingly successful so far, meaning it might not be long before 3D printing technology revolutionizes the way we design and manufacture explosives.

As Sergeant Jared Green, Team Leader of the US Marines’ Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit, explains, one of the biggest benefits is in the fast turnaround-times afforded by additive manufacturing. “All the charges worked. They did what we wanted them to do,” Green says, noting that his team was able to 3D print the explosives and assemble them in less than 24 hours before testing on steel sheet targets.

The basic idea revolves around 3D printing small containers that can be transformed into explosives by adding charges to them. In other words, the 3D printed materials are not explosive on their own; rather, team members pack the encasings with explosive materials, then apply them on the target.


But as Green notes, thinking outside the box here could prove key to pushing that innovation even farther. “Once everybody is comfortable with the material and how to utilize it, it opens up the possibility of being able to design something and print it on the spot – something that you can’t buy, that doesn’t even exist,” he says. “A marine with a good imagination can create it, print it, and have it in less than 24 hours.”

Despite the US Marines’ reputation for keeping current projects under lock and key, the EOD Sergeant sees potential in the information-sharing enabled by 3D modeling and 3D printing technology. The many online resources where printable files can be simply downloaded and 3D printed are certainly of interest to him, he said.

Especially when considering the US Marines’ recent initiative of 3D printing and testing small drones, all signs are pointing towards the American military devoting considerable efforts towards leveraging additive manufacturing technology for tomorrow’s warfare.

Once 3D printed drones are (it seems inevitably) combined with 3D printed bombs, new possibilities of remotely printing explosives open up. A marine squad could, hypothetically, steer drones to any battlefield and simply start producing weapons on site.

See the initial tests done by Green’s unit for yourself in the video above.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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