National Security

3-D Printed Missiles Now a Thing


/ Raytheon

3-D printing has taken its next logical step as a defense contractor has engineered a way to use the manufacturing process in the creation of guided missiles.

Raytheon, one of the U.S.'s largest defense contractors, has built a missile almost entirely from 3-D printing technology.

"The day is coming when missiles can be printed," Raytheon said in a press release. "Researchers at Raytheon Missile Systems say they have already created nearly every component of a guided weapon using additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3-D printing. The components include rocket engines, fins, parts for the guidance and control systems, and more."

"You could potentially have these in the field," Raytheon engineer who has printed working rocket motors Jeremy Danforth said in the release. "Machines making machines. The user could [print on demand]. That’s the vision."

Gizmodo explained exactly what 3-D printing technology could mean for the military some day.

"For the time being, Raytheon is mostly interested in the cost savings that additive manufacturing can promise, but for the military, there’s a lot of logistical upsides as well: put a stack of raw materials and a 3-D printer on an aircraft carrier, and you could have a virtually unlimited supply of munitions for the aircraft," Gizmodo's Chris Mills said.

Raytheon said that day may not be too far off. "There are folks in industry printing warheads," Danforth said in the release. "We are printing demos of many of the seeker components. And we demonstrated a printed rocket motor."

"We’ve already printed 80 percent of what would go into a missile."