The U.S. Army is a pioneer when it comes to 3D printing, but some say they went too far this time. The American army wants to use the technology to provide for cheaper warheads, so says an official to Motherboard, who are very skeptical about these developments. The website itself compares this kind of 3D printing with something as dangerous as printing guns. The U.S. Army also experiments with bioprinting in order to recover wounds, and investigates how food printing could help the military world.
The idea behind using this technique is that the U.S. Army could one day build warheads with smaller and more compact parts that save the army money and allow for more security measures. Motherboard, however, thinks the entire development generally comes down to being the U.S. Army’s “latest bid to kill more people, more efficiently, and at less cost”. Despite the skepticism from Motherboard, the army hopes to one day be able to 3D print entire warheads.
James Zunino, a researcher at the Armament Research, Engineering and Design Center (ARDEC) Picatinny, New Jersey wrote to Motherboard:
“3D printing of warheads will allow us to have better design control and utilize geometries and patterns that previously could not be produced or manufactured. Warheads could be designed to meet specific mission requirements whether it is to improve safety to meet an Insensitive Munitions requirement, or it could have tailorable effects, better control, and be scalable to achieve desired lethality.”
Zunino adds: “3D printing also allows for integrating components together to add capabilities at reduced total life cycle costs.” But that’s not all yet, as the technique could also be used to make munitions more affordable. “It is expected that 3D printing will reduce life-cycle costs of certain items and make munitions more affordable in the long run through implementation of design for manufacturability, and capitalizing on the add capabilities that 3D printing and additive manufacturing can bring to munitions and warheads.”
The army might also use food printers on the battlefield in the future to create the right meals at the right time for its soldiers. They could also use the technology to provide for rations. Another advantage is that the army will be able to create entirely personalized meals. Soldiers need certain nutrients to give them the energy needed to do their work. Using food printers, it’s much easier to provide for the perfect meals with the right amount of minerals and vitamins.
They also investigate how bioprinting (printing human organs, cells and blood vessels) could be used could be used in order to recover wounded soldiers. By printing skin cells on the patient, they hope to be able to recover wounds fully. Burns, which account for 10 to 30 percent of all war injuries, could potentially be recovered by bioprinting news layers of skin.
Image: James Junino, credits: U.S. Army.