3D Printed Drones, An Emerging Trend

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Two of the most exciting, eye-opening, yet controversial technologies of the current times are 3D printing and drone technology. Both have the potential to really springboard humanity forward in a massive leap, while they also could pose major issues to the current security state of many nations.

Both these technologies will begin working  in conjunction in a way we have not seen since computer processors and software have in the mid to late 80’s.

In the near future, a common war strategy could be as simple as a General pushing a button, to 3D print an army of drones, which can partol a certain area thousands of miles away. At least that’s what Ben FitzGerald, the Predator drones in AfghanistanDirector of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, believes. In a report last month called “Process Over Platforms A Paradigm Shift in Acquisition Through Advanced Manufacturing,” FitzGerald states the following:

It is broken down as follows, instead of creating costly manned aircraft in small amounts, the defense department might be able to build thousands of custom drones with the assistance of 3D printed parts, through the use of automatic assembly lines, which are on at all hours of the day.

Sure, we are still several years away from the technology needed to build military drones via 3D printing methods, however, the push to compete with other countries to produce the most drones in the shortest period of time, will likely give incentive to the US to push forward on the development of both emerging technologies.

The military isn’t the only area in which we are seeing 3D printing and drones collide. In October we saw a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for a smartphone controlled drone called “Hex”. The Hex Airbot was a drone hexwhich used an Arduino-compatible board, and a 3D printed body. The company had set out to raise $10,000 to send these bots into production, but instead raised over half a million dollars. Because fo the 3D printed parts of Hex, the price of the drone was incredibly cheap. The base kit was only $49 during the Kickstarter campaign. Users could then customize their Airbot however they’d like to, if they had access to a 3D printer.

All across the internet we are beginning to see the intersection of drones and 3D printing. For example, at DIYDrones.com, there is a whole section dedicated to 3D printing drone parts. This merging of two of the most exciting technologies will only get stronger as time progresses, and technologies improve.  It will be up to local governments, as well as engineers to make sure the safety of the public is not compromised by the massive influx of innovation about to take place.

Discuss the possibilities of 3D printing and drones: http://3dprintboard.com/showthread.php?1557-3D-Printed-Drones-Are-Coming-Fast

 

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