The military will not want to be the last one to be updated with 3D printing. The US Navy carriers will soon be equipped with 3D printers. These will help in creating replacement parts, including miniature combat drones.
The advances of the 3D printing technology are happening so fast. Because there are a lot of uses to the 3D printers, it’s becoming a really useful tool. This is why the Navy officials want these printers on board.
Issues with 3D Printing On Ships
However, there are several concerns with using the printer on the ships while at sea. The powders used in printing titanium and aluminum are highly flammable which is a problem, at the moment.
Aside from that, they are still figuring out which shop to place the 3D printers. Currently, these printers are used in a stable environment on land and not while at the sea in a more dynamic location.
Lt. Ben Kohlman, from the Rapid Innovation Cell of Chief of Naval Operations, said that the printers can’t be subjected to the forces and movement of the ship.
They are trying to figure out the safest way to move in the printer while managing the external forces that may affect it. Kohlman added that this makes the entire process similar to designing. They are currently working on different ways to go around the problems.
Although the technology is not yet ready for ships, the processes of doing so will soon be figured out.
Uses of 3D Printers in the Navy
Kohlman noted that having a 3D printer inside the ship would allow the carrier to mass produce combat drones in case it encounters an enemy. Having hundreds of these drones can saturate airspace and also destroy the enemy’s radar stations.
It’s won’t take a lot of time before the 3D printers are inside the ships. What’s more is that the printer isn’t only just for printing spare parts or building a drone. There are already researches done in printing working human organs and body parts through the technology. This is also something that the US Navy would want to tap.
Instead of rushing a soldier or a sailor to a hospital on land during emergencies, the needed organ can be printed on the ship. The surgery can also be done on the ship which in turn can save lives and not disrupt the service.
3D Printing in the Military
The 3D printers are already used in the army for a few years now, especially in combat. 3D printers were deployed to Afghanistan together with rapid equipping force of the army. Engineers are working on the 3D printers in order to develop solutions without needing parts to be shipped to Afghanistan. This allows the army to produce everything within the country.
With the fast development of 3D printers, the military might be integrating 3D printers for missions and other military operations. It uses may also expand significantly in the coming years. This might even become an indispensable military tool against the enemy.
PHOTO COURTESY OF INKPAL.COM