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3D Printing: The Future Of Warfare?

3D printing has been around since the 90s, but its new-found popularity means it's being used more often in homes and, maybe soon, on the...

The technology behind 3D printing has been around since the 90s, but its new-found popularity means it's being used more often in homes and, maybe soon, on the battlefield. 

On the West Coast of America however, the 1st Maintainance Battalion of the US Marines were tasked with experimenting with the technology to see how it might be used by the military.

What they found was an application that could change the shape of a conflict.

Inside a shipping container on Camp Pendleton, something’s happening that could revolutionise the way battles are fought and won.

The switch the staff are printing regularly breaks. It’s not a part that’s replaceable so when it goes - it usually means $10,000 for a new set of goggles and if you’re on the frontline it could take weeks to reach you.

Using this technology, it's possible to print one in 14 minutes for around 30 cents.

The technology itself isn’t new, what is, is the ability to make it mobile.

They can now move it to the battlefield – potentially allowing them to completely flatten the supply lines during a conflict.

Testing of the facility known as ‘exman’ or expeditionary manufacturing is still underway.

So far it's been tried in austere land environments. 

There are plans for a metal 3D printer to be installed meaning 3D printing on the battlefield may soon be the norm.         

3D printing
An example of a 3D topographic map of a battle area
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