US Army Research Laboratory has flight tested 3D-printed unmanned aircraft that was developed with a new on-demand system.
In a successful test, the Prospects of US soldiers manufacturing drones with 3D printers in a remote combat zone has been demonstrated, the US Army announced in a press release on Thursday.
The system allows soldiers requiring unmanned aerial vehicle support to input their requirements into mission planning software and then receive a 3D-printed aerial vehicle within 24 hours.
The test drone with four rotary blades managed reach 55 miles per hour, despite a few kinks such as excessive vibration that need to be worked out, the release noted.
The Army is researching the possible use of 3D printers by forward-deployed soldiers for multiple tasks.
"This isn't just about [drones], it’s about forward-deployed, 3D printing to help the soldier." the project’s team leader and project manager Eric Spero said.
For soldiers attending the December demonstration, Spero’s team also printed a Picatinny rail, which is a bracket used to mount accessories on a small arms weapon, such as an M4 carbine, the release explained.
Within about two and a half hours, they had a rail that fit the soldiers' weapons perfectly.