While consumers and gun enthusiasts alike speculate about the future impact of 3D printers, the U.S. military is already forging ahead. BBC News reports that the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command is currently developing its own 3D printer technology. Once operational, the machines would eliminate wait time for deliveries of spare parts and lower the high cost of commercially made supplies:
“The ability to replicate parts quickly and cheaply is a huge benefit to the warfighter,” said D Shannon Berry, an operations research analyst at the Future Warfare office, in a statement. Eventually, it is hoped the printer will find a larger role with US forces deployed overseas.“Instead of needing a massive manufacturing logistics chain, a device that generates replacement parts is now small and light enough to be easily carried in a backpack or on a truck,” he said.The key reason to develop the printer, said Mr Berry, was to produce cheap spare parts for the sensitive instruments it develops. SMDC [Space Missile Defense Command] systems are typically deployed in space, but prototypes are tested terrestrially on drones and other small aircraft.
More on 3D printing here.