3D printing technology can undoubtedly be used for good in the military, from surveillance and training to helping in the development of field trauma simulators, from maintaining aging aircraft parts to making 3D printed wearable antennae and submarine hulls; the technology can even be used to lower the logistical footprint of convoys. There are also many who believe that by using the technology, various branches of military around the world will begin to fundamentally change the violent acts of war as we know them.

By now we’ve seen all sorts of 3D printed weapons, from guns to bombs, as many experts note that weapons applications will continue to develop and need to be understood. Now, a division of the US Marine Corps has developed small 3D printed explosives.

Together with the Stuttgart, Germany-based Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response (SPMAGTF-CR) team in Africa, which is deployed for limited crisis-response and theater-security operations in North Africa and Europe, a team of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Marines tested out their 3D printed explosive parts at Naval Station Rota in Spain earlier this month. The explosives themselves are not actually 3D printed, but the small containers that hold them are.

The EOD Marines are working on several potential designs for the 3D printed containers that could potentially be used in the field as real explosives.

Staff Sergeant Jared Green, the EOD Team Leader, explained, “Once everybody is comfortable with the material and knows how to utilise it, it opens up the possibility of being able to design something and print it on the spot, something that you can’t buy and doesn’t even exist.”

The mission is to create small, 3D printable containers that will be turned into battlefield explosives once soldiers pack them with charges and explosive materials. Then, the containers will be applied to blow up a target.

SSgt Green explained in a Marines TV video, taken by Sgt Takoune H. Norasingh, that the Marines can use 3D printing technology to create things, like the 3D printed explosives container, literally overnight, or use their imaginations to develop objects that aren’t readily available. He also said that there are plenty of resources available online to find and download 3D printable files.

3D printing technology also allows soldiers to quickly and easily create 3D printed parts on the go wherever they are, rather than having to lug around spare parts. At the moment, there are several 3D printers being actively used in combat zones in the Middle East, and the benefits of having an on-demand mini factory in the field are numerous.

[Marines TV screenshot via International Business Times]

In the video, which demonstrates the 3D printing and testing process of the explosives and posted by the US Department of Defense (DoD), the EOD Marines placed their 3D printed explosive containers on a sheet of metal in a successful live exercise.

“All the charges worked, it did what we wanted them to do and we were able to print them and make them in less than 24 hours,” SSgt Green said.

These small 3D printed explosives could pave the way for the military to use the technology in order to develop the next generation of warfare weaponry.

You can check out the video of the explosives being 3D printed and tested below:

What do you think of these 3D printed explosives? Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

[Sources: Marines TV, International Business Times / Images: DoD]

 

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