A recent munitions test in Maryland was unlike any other the US Marine Corps has completed in its history.
The indirect fire munition which was detonated at the Naval Surface Warfare Center was 3d printed.
"One of the benefits of being able to precisely control the way that a munition or warhead is 'grown' through [additive manufacturing] is that we think we'll be able to tailor the blast and associated fragmentation to achieve specific effects for particular targets, heights, collateral damage, or even environmental considerations,"Capt. Chris Wood, the co-lead for 3-D printing for Deputy Commandant of Installations told Military.com. "Some of this can be done currently with very expensive, hand-made munitions, but [additive manufacturing] allows us to do it better, faster and likely cheaper."
Captain Wood is implying that new production techniques available via 3d printing may make the Marines more accurate and effective with their munitions, while cutting costs at the same time.
The munitions test last week is part of a program known as NexLog, which looks at leveraging emerging technologies to further the fighting prowess of the world's most capable expeditionary fighting force.
As ThreeD Materials has reported in the past, branches of the US Armed Forces are using 3d printing in a variety of ways, including replacing parts for vehicles and aircraft that are no longer in production.
"Where production has been done for 20, 30 years, and they don't even assign [national service numbers] to some of these parts because they don't expect them to ever be replaced because they don't plan for that piece of equipment to go beyond that life cycle," Wood said to Military.com, stressing that 3d printing is helping to solve a real challenge of hard to find spare parts.
As for whether there will be more tests using 3d printed munitions in the future?
"We plan to do that soon as possible," Wood said.