One of the things I've been fascinated by in the always developing world of technology, and the fantastic vistas it is opening up, is three-dimensional printing, a new technology that is about as close to desktop manufacturing that one can imagine> I have blogged previously about the culture-transforming aspects of this technology, and even about the way it would transform warfare itself.

As usual, however, someone has already foreseen it and is already doing it:

US Military Invests in Three D Printing on the Front Line

The force-multiplier effect of this technology is thus breath-taking, even if considered only and solely from the standpoint of conventional operations: imagine being able to replace a part to a damaged tank, say, a portion of its track, or a bogey wheel, something fairly innocuous, but something which, as any tank commander knows, can put his vehicle out of action. Or imagine being able, on the spot, to manufacture bullets and magazines for automatic weapons... and, as the technology evolves and more capabilities and types of materials and complex manufacturing is added, grenades, rocket launchers...and...

In short, the technology will not only be a force multiplier but will bring about radical changes in logistical considerations. The article talks about replacement parts, but, it is conceivable over time that logistics will consist, not of the transport of weapons and supplies to a particular operational area, but of their manufacture on the spot... this will dramatically change the nature of warfare and defense budgets, for the measure of military power will become not how many nuclear missiles or tanks or submarines one has, but how much 3-D manufacturing capacity one has (and I hope you caught the implications of the mention of nuclear weapons and three-D printing in the same breath).

Imagine, too, that such technology could be developed to provide on the spot medical equipment for wounded soldiers, even prosthetic capability...

We are looking at a real paradigm changer here folks, one that will completely transform the nature of operations: Enemy surrounded? Cut off from supplies? not so important, if they have a three-D printing capacity and the requisite material so supply ammunition, vehicles, replacement parts...and as the technology develops, even food.

See you on the flip side...

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Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and "strange stuff". His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into "alternative history and science".


  1. Frankie Calcutta on December 8, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Now I understand why we shipped our factories to China and elsewhere. We don’t need them. Brilliant! I hope we got top dollar for them with a lot of under the table kickbacks as well. And everybody is always talking about how smart these Chinamen are and how they are thinking generations ahead of us. Not this time. The western capitalists can still pull a few money making tricks out of their bag when needed. This one seems to be a doozy.

    And now think of this– we will end up manufacturing for everybody else (assuming we are on the lead edge of this technology) and beating their dollar an hour laborers by a dollar. That’s efficiency and some streamlined production. So, we become the manufacturing powerhouse once again.

    The only problem I anticipate is the masses of idle workers displaced by this efficiency. Cancer viruses and toxic food anyone? Kill half of us and employ the other half in the hospices.

    • Frankie Calcutta on December 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      With the hell storm of social problems these former manufacturing upstarts like China will encounter when they have to lay off millions of workers, the governments of these nations will be begging us to sell them our GMO foods, pharmaceuticals, vaccines, fluoride secrets, opium, mind numbing tv programming, etc Anything to kill or pacify their disgruntled citizenry. They won’t be able to get these peasant workers back on the farms fast enough. They’ll have to start wars with neighboring countries just to keep the citizens distracted. And the West will be right there to supply them the armaments and loan them the money to keep the war going.

      Never rule out the banksters. Rumors of their impending demise our clearly premature.

  2. legioXIV on December 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    “Enemy surrounded? Cut off from supplies? not so important, if they have a three-D printing capacity and the requisite material so supply ammunition, vehicles, replacement parts…and as the technology develops, even food.”

    Here’s a wild one for you Dr Farrell, battle casualties too high, no problem, don’t panic we’ll just print more soldiers.

  3. Robert Barricklow on December 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    DARPA takes the 3-D Printing,
    to a Biological level.

    • terminally skeptical on December 7, 2012 at 7:15 am

      Didn’t see any biological 3-D mentioned but the droids are impressive and also got quite the primer on DARPA. Thanks . . . . . I think.

  4. Robert Barricklow on December 6, 2012 at 10:19 am

    The technology is getting more & more magical, in the Author C. Clarke sense of the work.
    And Merlin is definately brewing a boiling pot of ever increasingesculating/exponential paradigm shifts. One might even suggest, …EXPLOSIVE!

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