Always one to push the envelope, U.S. Army researchers from the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) have been successfully experimenting with 3D printing for one of their latest technologies. The result? RAMBO — Rapid Additively Manufactured Ballistic Ordinance — a 40mm grenade launcher. Fitting name, no?
Virtually the entire gun was produced using additive manufacturing while some components — ie: the barrel and receiver — were produced via direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). So, 3D printed rounds fired from a 3D printed launcher with the only conventionally manufactured components being springs and fasteners, all within a six month development time.
The main purpose of the project was to see whether a capable weapon could be produced using additive manufacturing as well as a viable proof-of-concept for future development. In saying that, during the live-fire test, the performance of the printed rounds were within 5% of traditional 40mm grenade velocities. Additionally, the rapid development could conceivably extend to customized weapons for individual soldiers or combat missions.
This is perhaps taking rapid prototyping using 3D printers to an alarming level. But the printers are far from common equipment. This was high level collaboration using prohibitively expensive processes. It’s interesting to look at, but we’ll settle for some replicas, desk warfare, and some not-NERF weapons.
[Thanks for the tip, Itay! Via Gizmodo]