3D Printed Guided Missiles are Now a Reality

A high-tech firm has found a way to 3D print guided missiles.

The Raytheon team, the high-tech firm behind the missiles, hopes that eventually soldiers will be able to print these weapons right in the battlefield.

However, that may take some time considering the complexity of building a functioning weapon.

“Before a warfighter can print a missile in the field,” Chris McCarroll, Raytheon director for the Raytheon University of Massachusetts Lowell Research Institute, explained, “you need [a] quality, controlled processes to fabricate all the component materials: the metallic strongbacks, and the plastic connectors, the semiconductors for processors, and the energetics and propulsion systems. The hard part is then making the connections between these components, as an example, the integrated control circuit that receives the command to light the fuse. At some relatively near-term point you may have to place chips down and interconnect them with printing. Or, in the future, maybe you’ll just print them.”

According to McCarroll, one goal of 3D printing is to reduce costs and save materials by introducing a way to print everything – from circuit cards to housings – in one integrative process without the waste.

“There’s currently a hierarchy in our manufacturing. We make the structures, the housings, the circuit cards, with the right materials, and then we integrate them into a system,” said McCarroll. “What we see in the near future is printing the electronics and printing the structures, but still integrating. Eventually, we want to print everything together. An integrated system.”

Currently the Raytheon team is working on 3D printing “demos of many of the seeker components” and are 80 percent there.

They also said they are not the only company working on 3D printed warheads right now.

Photo Credit: 3DPrint