The U.S. Military: Now Available in 3D

Printing weapons is not on the agenda, but fixing them might be.

Military_Fatigues_SmallAn isolated military outpost in the middle of hostile territory is a bad place for your equipment to break down. Replacement parts and fuel either have to be air-dropped or driven through dangerous territory. So the U.S. military plans to make remote operating bases and camps self-sufficient, able to generate their own energy and even print their own gadgets.

Advances in radio, GPS and surveillance equipment have changed how the US military deploys its troops, says Bob Charette of the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office. Instead of being bunched in large groups that slowly march across enemy territory, soldiers are now strategically scattered in independent camps that span an entire war zone. But they often have difficulty getting equipment, and it can take months to receive parts that need to be shipped from the U.S.

To speed up the process, the U.S. army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF) has put together three mobile laboratories in 6-metre-long shipping containers. Each lab comes with tools such as plasma cutters and jigsaws, a 3D printer that prints in plastic or metal and a scientist and engineer to run them. The labs, which cost about $2.8 million, can be picked up by helicopter and set down just about anywhere.

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Source: Sara Reardon | NewScientist