TECH

3D-Printed Missiles Will Soon Be Available, Say US-based Defence Company

20/07/2015 13:20 BST | Updated 20/07/2015 13:59 BST

An aerospace and defence company based in Arizona, US have said that 3D-printed missiles could soon become reality for weapons manufacturers around the world.

Raytheon Missile Systems, who have a UK branch, announced they have printed almost every component of a missile including "rocket engines, fins, parts for the guidance and control systems, and more."

Jeremy Danforth, an engineer at the company said:

“You could potentially have these in the field. Machines making machines. The user could [print on demand]. That’s the vision.”

Despite the company being able to print 80% of the parts required to build a missile, researchers say it will be a while before soldiers can use the technology in the field to print on demand.

However, they do suggest that the method will involve lower manufacturing costs and a more "streamline" process overall.

Leah Hull, additive manufacturing manager for Raytheon said:

“When we print something, we have fewer piece parts, so your supply chain becomes simpler.

“Your development cycles are shorter; you’re getting parts much faster. You can get a lot more complex with your design because [you can design] angles you can’t machine into metal.”

The hardest challenge at the moment, according to Raytheon, is integrating the various components of the missile.

But as the firm's research continues, printing and assembling missiles on the spot doesn't seem like a far-fetched vision.

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