Every technology casts a shadow. In the case of 3D printing, for every potentially benign use —like bioprinting organs—there is an unsettling opposite like printing guns at home. Now, the army is looking to use 3D printing to make the world a more dangerous place in at least one more way: building deadlier warheads.
The army has been developing its 3D printing capabilities for some time now, and has technology already nearly advanced enough to bioprint replacement skin on the battlefield. But the military isn’t just interested in saving lives—more often than not, it takes them. In its latest bid to kill more people, more efficiently, and at less cost, the army is planning to print warhead components, according to the latest issue of Army Technology.
“3D printing of warheads will allow us to have better design control and utilize geometries and patterns that previously could not be produced or manufactured,” James Zunino, a researcher at the Armament Research, Engineering and Design Center (ARDEC) in Picatinny, New Jersey, told Motherboard in an email.
The ability to print parts previously unimaginable using traditional manufacturing methods could radically open up the possibilities when it comes to what a warhead can do. For example, warheads using 3D-printed components could be designed to be more compact in order to pack in additional payloads, sensors, and safety mechanisms. Planning for printed parts in the design process will also allow the army to precisely engineer the blast radiuses of warheads for maximum effect.