Today I read an article about two Navy lieutenants named Scott Cheney-Peters and Matthew Hipple. In the journal of the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, the pair talked about the growth of 3D printers and that in the future these printers could change almost everything about the way the Navy builds things “through the design and construction of ships, submarines, aircraft, and everything carried on board.” As 3D printers evolve, their hope is that the Navy can use them for everyday logistics and producing tools and supplies. Cheney-Peters and Hipple want 3D printing to be so heavily incorporated into Navy use that it is used to print plates, tools, medical supplies, and even ships. They even hope that 3D printers can be placed in Naval hospitals so doctors can use them to print medical tools and prosthetic limbs. At this point in time, 3D printers are not capable of being used to the degree that these lieutenants are hoping, such as for printing ships and aircraft. The highest quality 3D printers cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they still cannot print high quality rubber or metals that the Navy needs in production.
In our class, we have discussed 3D printing a number of times. We have also discussed drones. What is they were combined? Researchers in Virginia and the United Kingdom have printed working, flyable drones (without engines of course). As 3D printing becomes more popular and affordable, we will continue to hear more stories like this. However, the time is coming where it will be possible to print ships. If we can print ships, why not a nice car? Printable houses are already possible. What will be done to keep this all in line? Will the Government soon make limits on what can be done with 3D printers? Or will we continue to print 3D guns and whatsoever we desire as 3D printing evolves?