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The development of military applications has preceded on many occasions the course that will set our future, such as the creation of the internet that was initially thought of as something only for warlike actions, now it is something essential in our lives. For years they have started their research in different fields related to additive manufacturing ranging from weapons development, food, and medicine.
Although the relationship between 3D printing and weapons is still a controversial topic, it should not be overlooked that these innovations could develop things that will change our routines. That is why we have chosen the 5 best military apps that are currently being worked on.
1. Russia and its 3D printed tanks
In May 2015, a colossal tank, the T-14, was seen parading to celebrate Russia’s victory in World War II, what was not known at the time is that the military vehicle was created by Uralvagonzavod, a vehicle manufacturer of armored vehicles, which began using 3D printing on its new line of tanks, Armata.
Until now the use of 3D parts is mainly used for prototyping, thus avoiding ordering a test component and creating a set of mechanical elements, and evaluating their functionality. They are currently working on the development of titanium parts through additive manufacturing, it is expected that they will overcome the high safety measures of the industry in the coming months, and can be used without the need for prototypes.
2. Missiles with additive manufacturing
Raytheon, the world’s leading US-based producer of guided missiles, began experimentation with 3D-printed missiles a few months ago. The main function of the company’s recent acquisition of the printers will be to provide spare parts for missiles, thus speeding up the replacement process. In addition to this first step, the development of 3D printed electrical circuits for missile guidance systems is expected.
Additive manufacturing in metal allows the elements that were previously assembled to be produced in a single piece, thus saving the use of material, also optimizing the size and arrangement of the internal elements, such as explosives, sensors, etc. It is expected that in the future it will be possible to print the missiles directly inside the war zone.
3. 3D printed soldiers rations
Researchers from the United States Army began developing 3D printed food for soldiers on battlefields. The idea is to create foods that contain all the necessary nutrients in the diet of each soldier, thus creating a personalized diet.
To know the needs of each individual, they have created a device that will measure the needs of each soldier, the 3D printer will be able to create a powdered drink or a bar specifically designed so that each individual can perform at their best. Although this is expected to be seen on a battlefield within the next 10 to 15 years, it is a fact that printed food will become increasingly relevant within the military ranks.
4. Mine detector drones
Another military application with 3D printing is a drone created with additive manufacturing that can detect and eliminate land mines without human intervention. This drone was financed by the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter under the name “My kaftan dron”. The idea behind this has a humanitarian origin, worldwide some 100 million mines are buried in former war zones and up to 10 people die or are maimed daily as a result.
The drone’s anti-mine procedure is divided into 3 stages: The first stage is mapping or delimiting the terrain. In the second stage, the area is scanned and the exact position of the mines is detected. In the last step, the drone places a ball-shaped detonator on each mine located from a safe distance to explode it.
5. Compression and tissue development
Since 2014 the United States Army has been developing one of the military applications that could change our lives, bioprinting of living tissue. The objective is to print tissues so that they can be implanted in wounds caused on the battlefield. With this, they would allow the complete regeneration of the damage. Currently, between 10 and 30% of war wounds burn, which multiple times prevent the correct movement of the muscles again. Researchers at the Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) have made great strides in skin regeneration such as the development of sweat glands, skin pigmentation, and hair follicles.
To develop bioprinted tissue, the wound area is scanned, creating a digital “map” of the injury. Based on this map the print head moves like an ink printer over the wound. But instead of color in the ink cartridges, they contain different types of cells that are layer by layer placed on the damaged tissue to be able to create a new one that adapts to the needs of each patient.
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