As most readers here know, one of the "memes" we've been tracking is the emergence of 3-d printing as as media-driven "meme," and I have stated publicly, and outlined various hypotheses as to why this may be taking place. One of them, which I advanced very early on, was that 3-d printing represents the ability to disperse complex manufacturing facilities, precisely what one would do in a situation where manufacturing was under some implicit strategic threat, and one wished to maintain a manufacturing capability, crucial to sustain modern military operations. I've also suggested that it is my strong suspicion that while 3-d printing has been around for a while, it ultimately emerged from black projects research.
There's been a bit of confirmation, lately, of both the military aspects of the technology, and an admission that it has been around, quietly investigated, for some time, and these come from two regulars here, Ms. George Ann Hughes of The Byte Show, and Ms. P.H.
First, note that 3d Printing is being adapted to the mass manufacture of warheads by the US Army:
And consider the implications of these statements:
“Warheads could be designed to meet specific mission requirements whether it is to improve safety to meet an Insensitive Munitions requirement, or it could have tailorable effects, better control, and be scalable to achieve desired lethality,” Zunino said.
And while the US Army is attracted to 3D printing’s ability to offer more efficient mechanisms for killing, the cost-effectiveness at a time of budgetary cutbacks is enticing as well.
“3D printing also allows for integrating components together to add capabilities at reduced total life cycle costs,” Zunino said. “It is expected that 3D printing will reduce life-cycle costs of certain items and make munitions more affordable in the long run through implementation of design for manufacturability, and capitalizing on the add capabilities that 3D printing and additive manufacturing can bring to munitions and warheads.”
Zunino added that the Army is not likely to stop at mere component manufacturing.
“Maybe someday an entire warhead or rocket could be produced as the technology further matures,” Zunino said.
Printing weaponry in 3D doesn’t stop with the Pentagon. Defense giant BAE Systems announced in January that the British Royal Air Force’s Tornado fighter jets have performed their first flights with some onboard metal parts manufactured using 3D-printing technology."
Dispersing such manufacturing capability makes targeting such facilities a nightmare... with a bit of hyperbole, it is conceivable that very small contractors could produce high-tech components for ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons, and so on, in their garage, so to speak. The current military use of thee technology suggests that it was used in this capacity covertly, in very deep black projects, for a very long time, for consider the implications of these statements:
"Traditional manufacturing methods are no match for what 3D printers can offer such weapons of mass destruction. 3D-processed components could allow for superior design such as the ability to “pack in additional payloads, sensors, and safety mechanisms,” Motherboard wrote."
In other words, 3D printing is a technology that seems to have been deliberately designed to allow the manufacture of very complex technologies by means that ordinary engineering could not handle, and this betokens an application not just to warheads and so on, but to much more exotic technologies, and hence, is a corroboration that the technology ultimately originated within the black projects world itself. It is now simply being applied to more mundane military technologies like ICBMs and jet fighters.
A second corroboration of this idea comes from the following, where NASA seems to be admitting that they've been researching 3D printing in space in connection to materials science research for decades(this courtesy of Ms. P.H.):
Consider the following statement carefully, for the context is suggestive:
"But the use of 3D printing in space requires a strong understanding of materials science to make it work. NASA has been doing experiments in this area since the Skylab space station of the 1970s, Latiff said. He urged tighter integration between scientists and manufacturers as they seek other uses of 3D technology."
Too be sure, NASA has been openly performing materials science experiments in space for some time; what is intriguing here is that the language is just slightly ambiguous, and just barely permits one to conclude that it has been doing 3D printing experiments for decades, but very covertly, in connection with materials science research in space, in the extremes of temperature, and in lower gravity.
And that should make everyone sit up and take notice: space, materials engineering, 3d printing, military manufacturing, strategic dispersal of manufacturing... it is a strange mix indeed, and one wonders, just what weird things one might be doing up there with the non-public forms of the technology. (Art's Parts, anyone?)
See you on the flip side...