If you are part of the Rapid Equipping Force in the US Army, then you will be pleased to hear that this rapid prototyping wing has just been deployed to Afghanistan, scientists, 3D printers and all. This particular wing’s duty is pretty unique, remaining far away from the battlefield action and yet providing no less support as they are capable of churning out customized pieces of equipment required on the battlefield thanks to the wonders of 3D printing, save in mobile form these days. Talk about significantly cutting down the amount of time required in order to produce wanted equipment, not to mention virtually removing shipping times from afar!
The printer used is capable of churning out plastic parts while a CNC system, a Haas OM-2 in this case, is able to create parts out of steel and aluminum. The thing is, you always get what you pay for, and in the name of speed and convenience, each of these mobile 3D printing labs will cost approximately $2.8 million which includes 3D printing devices, a full stock of relatively traditional tools such as saws and welders, and a pair of engineers in each lab. Hand me a 3D printed assault rifle there mate, I seem to have misplaced mine in the last Taliban skirmish.
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