Private defense contractors are chomping at the bit for their opportunity to explore 3D printing technology, hoping it can revolutionize modern warfare. The ability to use 3D printers in combat would provide a unique opportunity for soldiers to design and print things out while stationed at a forward operating base overseas, for example.
The US military is investing time and financial resources into 3D printing efforts geared towards military apparel, synthetic skin for wounded veterans, and food for soldiers, according to analysts. It goes significantly further than that, however, as companies are pushing the boundaries with tests of 3D printed materials in fighter jets, tanks, and helicopters. BAE Systems tested a 3D-printed metal part that was installed into a Tornado jet fighter in 2014.
"It's long term, but it's certainly our end goal to manufacture an aerial vehicle in its entirety using 3D printing technology," said Matt Stevens, 3D printing division head, in a statement to AFP.