The US army envisions a future where they can 3D print their weapons on the battlefield.
Researchers have unveiled a 3D printed M203 grenade launcher, which successfully launched printed grenades during live-fire tests.
Called RAMBO, the weapon is a modified M203 grenade launcher that consist of 50 components – all of which were printed expect for the springs and fasteners.
RAMBO, which stands for Rapid Additively Manufactured Ballistics Ordances, was a collaboration between the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC).
Not only does the process costs ‘tens of thousands of dollars less’ than traditional methods, but it will let researches build and test prototypes in a matter of days rather than months.
The team conducted a live-fire test in October, which they deemed a success.
Following 15 rounds, the printed weapon showed no signs of degradation and the demonstration went as planned – there was no wear on the barrel and the launcher held together.
A majority of RAMBO was created using the additive manufacturing process, which is a type of 3D printing that layers materials as it prints to create a 3D object.
‘RAMBO is a tangible testament to the utility and maturation of additive manufacturing,’ researchers shared in a blog post.
‘It epitomizes a new era of rapidly developed, testable prototypes that will accelerate the rate at which researchers’ advancements are incorporated into fieldable weapons that further enable our warfighters.’
‘Additive manufacturing (AM) is an enabling technology that builds successive layers of materials to create a three-dimensional object.’
Some of RAMBO’s main components were fashioned with harder, more sturdier materials.
The trigger and firing pin were printed in 4340 alloy steel and the barrel and receiver from aluminum.