With this 3D printing body armor innovation, the U.S. Army will be able to print custom-made armor on the spot.
According to a recent research on 3D printing technology, it is believed that the U.S. military would be able to print body armor for soldiers in the near future. The new technology would enable army units to create their own armor rather than wait for the long process of armor supply. Based on a report from The National Interest, scientists at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) are studying the means to develop the 3D print ceramic materials.
Compared to plastics or metals, using ceramics for 3D print is more challenging. However, they are crucial elements in the design of hard armor, with the capabilities to protect soldiers against shrapnel and bullets during the war. The abalone shell, which is built layer upon layer by a single-shell mollusk, is the inspiration behind the development of the new tech by ARL researchers.
The creation of a printing approach that develops high-density ceramics, which is a vital aspect of body armor, has been the focus of ARL. Considering the high density of the ceramic material, it will be strong enough to destroy all incoming projectiles. The body armor will be lighter but sturdier, compared to the ceramic body armor currently in use.
If the 3D printing of body armor turns out to be a success, it will become one of the most significant improvements to the U.S. army. Rather than undertaking the complex procedure of developing several thousands of armor for various men and women with different sizes and body shapes, the new technology will enable the force to print a perfect armor for a soldier with his/her measurements.
Also, it will save the Pentagon from having to deal with several unused armors due to wrong sizes. Plus, the units will not have to wait until the supply chain comes good with armor requests because this technology will support quick delivery of armor requests. What’s more? A unit positioned several kilometres away from supply depot would be able to print hard armor themselves.
The research center is yet to release any new set of armors because it is currently working on developing a perfect ceramics manufacturing procedure. However, once the procedure is completed and certified for use, printing armor-grade ceramics would become a piece of cake.