People’s Liberation Army of China Now Using 3D Printers for Battlefield Drills

IMTS

Share this Article

ch1

It’s rather odd that while China is one nation which is leading the way when it comes to innovative uses for 3D printing, there hasn’t been any talk about their military implementing the technology in any way. In the meantime several other governments, including the United States, Britain, and Israel have all integrated 3D printing into exercises and practical applications within at least one branch of their militaries. Is China just better at hiding military strategy then the rest are, or are they missing out on a major opportunity?ch4

As it turns out, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China’s armed forces, have actually been working with 3D printers. In fact, one such application was revealed to reporters earlier this week, and it certainly shows promise.

In a recent supply operations drill conducted by the PLA, reporters were on hand to witness what they described as a ‘magic scene’ at the Chengdu Military Region, one of seven military districts in the country, located in China’s southwest quarter. The drill was conducted with a convoy of six oil tanker trucks in which one truck caught fire. As the soldiers scurried to put out the flames in a relatively quick fashion, preventing the fire from spreading to the other vehicles in the convoy, they noticed damage to the truck. In particular a coupling on the vehicle needed repair and the soldiers found that such a part was not available in their inventory.

So what did they do? They pulled out a laptop and a 3D printer that they had on hand and instead of waiting for hours or longer for the part to be delivered, one solider named Dong Kaiyi pulled a model of the coupling up, while another solider fed material into the the 3D printer. Before they knew it the coupling had been printed out. While the exact machine used was not divulged, reporters on the scene claim that it used a ch2powder polymer and a binding agent.

The part was attached to the tanker, and after numerous tests the PLA confirmed that the tanker was now in perfect working order, ready to resume normal operations. The Army has been testing various other 3D printed parts as well, including ratchets, shafts and gears, all with relative success.

“One little 3D printer as opposed to waiting for 5 repairman to arrive!” Dong Kaiyi said, “The traditional way of machining parts is no longer necessary. No more planing, grinding, routing or other complex processes are required. With the 3D printer now ready for use, say goodbye to a lot of heavy maintenance machines, as field repair efficiency has improved.”

While this drill was just one possible application for the technology, there is little doubt that China is looking into the use of 3D printing for dozens of possible military applications, and as the technology improves and soldiers become more experienced using the printers, we could certainly see every convoy or military unit eventually equipped with one or more machines of their own.

Let’s hear your thoughts on the PLA’s use of 3D printing in the China’s Army 3D Printing forum thread on 3DPB.com.

 

Share this Article


Recent News

Profiling a Construction 3D Printing Pioneer: US Army Corps of Engineers’ Megan Kreiger

Meltio and Accufacture Unveil Robotic Metal 3D 3D Printer Made in the US



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

3D Printing News Briefs, April 13, 2024: Robotics, Orthotics, & Hypersonics

In 3D Printing News Briefs today, we’re focusing first on robotics, as Carnegie Mellon University’s new Robotics Innovation Center will house several community outreach programs, and Ugogo3D is now working...

Rail Giant Alstom Saves $15M with 3D Printing Automation Software 3D Spark

3D Spark has entered into a three-year deal with the rail giant Alstom. Alstom, a transport behemoth with annual revenues of $16 billion, specializes in the manufacture of trains, trams,...

Meltio Expands Global Reach with New Partnerships in the Americas and Europe

Spanish 3D printing manufacturer Meltio has expanded its sales network across the globe. With the addition of three new partners in the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and Italy, Meltio aims...

3D Printing Webinar and Event Roundup: April 7, 2024

Webinars and events in the 3D printing industry are picking back up this week! Sea-Air-Space is coming to Maryland, and SAE International is sponsoring a 3D Systems webinar about 3D...