No sooner were 3D printers out in the wild than somebody was trying to make guns with them. But the US Army is an entirely different beast, one that’s very careful about the technologies it uses. Which is why they skipped over guns entirely and printed out a freaking grenade launcher.
Rapid Additively Manufactured Ballistics Ordnance (Yes, they really did name it R.A.M.B.O.) is a 3D printed version of the M203, which we all know from action movies as the grenade launcher underneath an automatic rifle’s barrel. The printing was done in both metal and plastic, with the parts handling what scientists call “explodey stuff” made out of aluminum powder and steel. Metal 3D printers essentially weld metal dust into a shape with lasers — you know, because this whole process wasn’t macho enough. Oh, and the Army successfully fired a grenade out of it, which they also made with 3D printers.
That said, the Army won’t be printing guns tomorrow. This was more a proof of concept that the technology was there and could be used to build munitions, than it was a demonstration of a mass-manufacturing process. Likely, this will be used to build specialty equipment in the field, or to crank out items as needed rather than having a forward team land and set up a gun printing shop. But it’s still an interesting proof of concept. Just, hopefully, nobody leaks the plans.
(Via Popular Mechanics)