The last thing you would expect is for the US military to create a 3D printed gun. After all, you’d think that an organization as large and well funded as our military wouldn’t need plastic guns. 3D printers are for people who don’t have massive factories at their disposal, but the Army has the military-industrial complex.
Nonetheless, the US Army recently revealed that they have created a 3D printed grenade launcher, which they have appropriately dubbed RAMBO or Rapid Additively Manufactured Ballistics Ordnance. It was designed by the Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command and the U.S. Army Manufacturing Technology Program.
RAMBO contains only 50 parts, and with the exception of a few springs and fasteners, is all 3D printed. However, not all of these pieces are plastic. The barrel and receiver are aluminum, and were printed by a metal sintering machine. The Army is also working on printing the 40mm ammunition that goes with the weapon. Early tests show that the weapon functions, and now the Army is testing its reliability under long-term use.
So why does the army want to build 3D printed weapons in the first place? They don’t explicitly say, but RAMBO and its ammo was designed and produced in 6 months, which is far shorter than what it would take to create a new weapon from scratch using traditional channels in the arms industry.
The Army probably doesn’t intend to actually deploy this prototype weapon. One could only guess, but it’s more likely that they are prototyping the concept of designing their own weapons. The research and development phase of any weapon is notoriously long and expensive, so by doing that part themselves they could skirt around the arms industry and save a ton of money.
The only question is, will the military-industrial complex abide this money saving measure? (For more from the author of “U.S. Army Creates World’s First 3D Printed Grenade Launcher” please click HERE)