The US Marine Corps has sought to use 3D printing technology as a viable tool in creating drones, combat equipment, and even vehicles.
The defense unit’s experiment still requires more work, so it’s likely that combat vehicles, such as a search and rescue amphibious UTV and other off-road vehicles will stay relevant.
In the meantime, the Marines had intended to achieve another milestone by deploying the first 3D-printed drone.
Dubbed the Nibbler, the 3D-printed unmanned aircraft would serve as the first of its kind that will be used for conventional combat. The development of the tiny drone follows the Marines’ successful attempt to create military-grade ammunition using the technology, as well as spare parts for weapon systems.
The experiment represents the increasing use of digital resources within the US military. For the Marines, the technology will help in enhancing equipment preparation and efficiency in combat, as well as in reducing maintenance costs.
Based on a cost perspective, using 3D printing technology can save money for the government as well. Capt. Chris Wood said that it would help in addressing the persistent shortage of spare parts for old weapons and equipment.
With just a few materials, such as a desktop printer and plastic 3D printing filament, the military unit can create different unmanned surveillance aircraft that perform just as well as commercially manufactured types. If everything goes according to plan, Wood expects the technology to be the future of the military supply chain.
The development of the first 3D-printed drone for operational combat marks another step in modern weaponry systems. It goes to show that digital technology continues to be increasingly relevant, particularly in industries where the use of 3D printing had been unimaginable in the past.