In recent years, we’ve seen 3D printed clothes, food, and even automobiles. The technology has gone from an experimental novelty to a resource in which all types of businesses and organizations are investing.
This includes NASA, which has used 3D printing to produce rocket parts and has even delivered a 3D printer to be used by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Soon, the U.S. Navy and other navies around the world may use 3D printing to produce small, modular vessels that are specifically suited to their environment.
Smaller, Stronger, Stealthier Boats
By using powdered metal and plastic, U.K. based defense contractor Qinetiq has recently reported that it’s indeed possible to print out a small boat.
The U.S. Navy has already taken the lead on 3D printing offshore, as they’ve installed a compact 3D printer aboard the USS Essex for the testing of sample parts and equipment, and as a CAD software training tool for sailors.
Compared to conventional manufacturing of vessel parts, 3D printed boats may deliver a number of advantages, including the ability of being created remotely and on-demand, and from carbon fiber reinforced and carbon nanotube enhanced plastic.
Vessels that are efficiently produced from such sophisticated materials are often lighter, stronger, and especially advantageous for stealth.
Broadening Range And Mitigating Risk
The technology is also conducive to the military’s increasing exploration and utilization of unmanned autonomous vessels (UAVs).
As explained by Qinetiq in its recent report, the ability to create a small unmanned boat, paired with drone technology, could open up a range of advantages with it comes to carrying out remote activities and helping to mitigate potential risks for the host vessel. It’s been reported that such concepts could be realized over the next fifteen years.
What are your thoughts on the idea of 3D printing boats and using them for naval missions? Do you think this technology will play an increasing role in our defensive capabilities? Tell us what you think in the comments.