3D printing is being utilized by the Department of Defense to produce hypersonic weapons.

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The U.S. Department of Defense has a long history of utilizing 3D printing technology in its weapons and vehicle designs. One such example is the partnership between Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat, where additive manufacturing is being integrated into the construction process of nuclear submarines to address supply chain shortages.

In an exciting new development, the Pentagon has announced its plans to incorporate 3D printing into their Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HWAC). Specifically, the technology will be used to create direct-flow air-jet engines, which are utilized in various aircraft and missiles. These engines are known for their ability to exceed speeds of Mach 24, or over 18,400 mph.

Keith DeVries, deputy director of the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Manufacturing Technology Program, believes that additive manufacturing will play a crucial role in the development of new systems by enabling the rapid creation of complex components. The advancements in 3D printing technologies have made it possible to construct objects from high-entropy metals, resulting in stronger, more durable components that can withstand high temperatures.

One notable application of 3D printing in this field is the fabrication of Scramjet propulsion systems, which are critical components for hypersonic engines. These systems require complex chambers that were previously difficult to manufacture using traditional methods. Additive manufacturing solves this problem by allowing the creation of Scramjet components from metals at high temperatures, eliminating the need for complex welding.

Furthermore, 3D printing accelerates the part manufacturing process by eliminating time-consuming and tedious testing associated with traditional methods. Welded joints, which often require expert approval for reliability, are not necessary for parts created using additive manufacturing.

Despite the many advantages that 3D printing brings to the manufacturing process, Keith DeVries emphasizes the importance of using these technologies judiciously. Additive manufacturing should only be employed where it is necessary and can maximize benefits.

The U.S. Department of Defense has already demonstrated its willingness to adopt various 3D printing processes within the armed forces. This approach highlights the potential for future advancements and innovations in the field.

What are your thoughts on the use of 3D printing in the creation of hypersonic weapons? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section below or on our social media platforms. Don’t forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay updated on the latest 3D printing news delivered straight to your inbox. You can also find a wealth of educational videos on our YouTube channel.

Cover Photo Credits: Defense News

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