The use of 3D printing for drones has been going on for quite some time now at both the governmental and hobbyist level. The reasons both groups use 3D printing for unmanned aircraft are pretty much the same though–and quite impressive. In using 3D printing technology, whoever is creating a drone has the latitude with digital design to create whatever unique aircraft they’d like to fly, and they can add whatever innovative features they think might work. Tweaks and edits are easy to make, and multiple 3D prints can be made in the prototyping process at a fraction of the cost of what it would add up to by traditional manufacturing.
If the government is using it in military practices, that’s usually an indicator that many others are going to want to check out their technological interests as well. And numerous militaries have embraced 3D printing, from said 3D printed drones being printed and used from U.S. Naval ships to militaries embracing the technology for other things such as 3D printing components at the front lines and even more futuristic ideas such as 3D printed uniforms.
Now, following the lead of the U.S., the Israelis want to use 3D printers to make drones as well. At Tel Nof Air Force Base, they’ve just finished testing with an American made 3D printer capable of fabricating components for drones. While only making test details and plastic parts, it’s no secret that with a 3D printer they would have the potential to integrate electronics affordably and would be able to manufacture them en masse from simply everywhere that a 3D printer can be powered up.
This feasibly includes power units and engines, as well as smaller components. Considering the amount of production being delegated to 3D printers for fabrication of high-quality components in areas like automotive and aerospace, this is certainly no stretch, and putting a drone in the air should be a piece of cake compared to many of the other items being constructed.
Just like everyone else, the Israeli’s use for the 3D printer would be to independently produce the drones as well as replacing parts expediently with the ease of digital design files at their fingertips. It’s also been reported that the Israelis recently also purchased other progressive U.S. wares in the form of robotics technology meant to streamline the assembly and disassembly of warplanes. This type of technology means significant savings in labor, but also means cutting out numerous jobs as humans are replaced.
The amount of time and money that can be saved by any military in making their own drones via 3D printing is staggering, plus it keeps everything they are doing as private as they would like it to be. Obviously it may start with 3D printing of drones and then lead to numerous ‘aha’ moments for potential use in nearly every sector from weapons to a wide range of other invaluable supplies. This is especially useful for isolated military units who would benefit greatly from the self-sustainability that 3D printing offers. Often it’s not so easy to just pick up supplies when soldiers are camped out in the middle of the desert. With 3D printing, it’s possible they can meet many crucial needs without even leaving camp.
Discuss your thoughts on 3D printing in the military, both in the U.S. and overseas, in the Israelis Testing 3D Printing of Military Drones forum over at 3DPB.com.