The military branches of the United States have long been experimenting with 3D printing. This state-of-the-art technology holds great potential from the future, and they have all been working effortlessly to gain such an advantage in technology for the United States. Just the cost and time effectiveness of 3D printing alone is unmatched for prototyping, part inspection and more. The U.S. Army has now 3D printed complete guns and have most recently been testing out the possibility of 3D printing drones for the battlefield. However, it seems another branch has beaten them to this last goal.
The United States Marine Corps have now developed the ability to 3D print surveillance drones after years of research and testing. The ‘Nibbler’ drone was created for unmanned military surveillance, but will also be used for bringing troops supplies while in combat. Of course, this isn’t the end stage for their 3D printed drone experiments. According to the man in charge of innovation efforts at the Marine Corps’ installations and logistics branch, Captain Chris Wood,
“Our team is very enthusiastic about the Nibbler, but even more enthusiastic about what it represents for the future…Imagine being in a forward deployed environment, and just like Amazon, you can ‘order’ the weapons and equipment you need for the next day’s mission from an entire catalog of possible solutions,” Wood said. “These solutions can all be upgraded literally overnight, in order to integrate new components or adapt to new requirements. On a very small scale, Nibbler shows us that this is possible right now with the group 1 UAS family of systems.”
The U.S. Marine Corps is currently in the process of building four 3D printing labs and already has twenty-five 3D printers that are in use at various global locations. Where these 3D printers are located, soldiers on base can freely use them. The ability of 3D printers to simply produce an object on-demand could soon change manufacturing forever – or as Wood describes, “It [3D printing] represents a revolution in the future supply chain.”