US Navy 3D prints custom drones

http://3dprint.com/85654/us-navy-3d-printed-drones/

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US Navy is 3D Printing Custom Drones Onboard the USS Essex

Back in April of last year,we reported that the United States Navy had installed a 3D printer onboard the USS Essex. This was quite a significant move at the time, allowing sailors to print replacement parts and surgical tools when needed, at sea.

Boy, has a lot changed within a year. Today we get word that the US Navy is now 3D printing custom drones onboard their ships. They’ve apparently been testingthe use of the onboard 3D printers to print out parts used to construct and assemble the drones.

The idea of printing drones, as needed, is one which could greatly improve intelligence while also decreasing the likelihood of Navy personnel being put into harm’s way, and has been on the minds of military planners around the world for some time now. In fact, just last week we reported on a story in which the British Royal Navy had launched 3D Printed SULSA drones from their ships.

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Data files and models of the drones can be sent via satellite from land to the USS Essex, and eventually other ships within the Navy fleet, and then these files can be 3D printed in a matter of hours. Once printed, the parts can be assembled together with other electronic devices held in storage on these ships, to create virtually any type of drone that may be required.

The project, which is being carried out by researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School, looks to provide sailors with modern-day technology which could benefit them and the United States in more ways than one.

“The challenge aboard a ship is logistics,” explained Alan Jaeger, faculty research associate at the Naval Postgraduate School. “Once a ship leaves, getting additional parts to that ship becomes difficult.”

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The idea that ships can leave port with just a small supply of electronic components and parts, common to the majority of drones, means that completely custom bodies can be designed on land and then quickly sent to the 3D printers on these ships for quick fabrication. While the drones could be designed to perform many different tasks, the example drone that was 3D printed on the USS Essex, this past December, was designed to carry a transmitter and tiny camera that was capable of sending live video back to a head-mounted display worn by one of the sailors on the ship. Its mission was to fly over ships in order to help stop piracy and drug smuggling at sea.

“This kind of concept — the flight controller and the major parts — doesn’t matter if it is a four-bladed or six or eight(-bladed drone), or whether it is 18 inches across or four feet across, as long as the electronics stay the same, the sailors can essentially create a platform, based on what their need would be,” explained Jaeger.

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While the testing of this process onboard the USS Essex has been deemed very successful, there have been some problems that the researchers have run into.

“Even with a small amount of wind, something this small will get buffeted around,” explained Jaeger.

This isn’t exactly an issue with the 3D printing process, but rather an issue with tiny drones in general. Certainly continued research into the 3D printing of drones will result in better, more well equipped UAVs for the US Navy in the future. What do you think about this latest breakthrough? Discuss in the US Navy 3D Prints Custom Drones forum thread on 3DPB.com.

3dprint.com

by  | JULY 30, 2015

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3D printed plane flies from Royal Navy ship

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-33656489

A 3D plane taking off from a Royal Navy ship

3D-printed plane flies from Royal Navy ship

A 3D-printed aircraft has been launched from a Royal Navy ship and landed safely on a Dorset beach.

The navy said the test flight from HMS Mersey demonstrated the potential use of small, unmanned aircraft at sea.

Cdr Bow Wheaton said the navy was “very interested” in possible uses of unmanned and highly automated systems.

Researchers behind the Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft said their “pioneering” techniques had advanced design thinking worldwide.

Prof Andy Keane, who leads the project along with Prof Jim Scanlan, said: “The key to increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles is the simple production of low-cost and rugged airframes.”

‘Fun doing it’

Prof Scanlan told the BBC the design process begins with “complex geometry” on a computer.

A laser beam is then used inside a printer to “sinter” thin layers of nylon powder – making a solid mass – and the process is repeated numerous times to build objects.

First Sea Lord Adm Sir George Zambellas said: “Radical advances in capability often start with small steps.

“The launch of a 3D-printed aircraft from HMS Mersey is a small glimpse into the innovation and forward thinking that is now embedded in our navy’s approach.”

He added: “We are after more and greater capability in this field, which delivers huge value for money. And, because it’s new technology, with young people behind it, we’re having fun doing it.”

Analysis

3D plane ready to be catapulted off HMS Mersey

Jonathan Beale, BBC defence correspondent

3D printing technology is already being used in the defence industry.

Last year an RAF Tornado flew with parts produced by a 3D printer for the first time – including protective covers for cockpit radios.

The technology has also been used to make guns.

The development of a drone using a 3D printer is another step forward.

In theory the technology could allow the military to build on site, whether that’s on a warship or at a forward operating base.

If a drone was shot down, they could just print another.

The armed forces would no longer be entirely dependent on a factory back home, or on fragile supply chains to ship spare parts or replacements out.

There is of course a big downside.

What happens when everyone else has access to the same technology?

The aircraft, which has a wingspan of 4ft (1.5m) and a cruising speed of 50 knots (60mph), first flew in 2011 and was the world’s first entirely printed aircraft.

It is assembled from four major parts, without the use of any tools, and can fly almost silently.

Its flight from HMS Mersey lasted less than five minutes – flying 1,600ft (500m) from Wyke Regis Training Facility in Weymouth and landing on Chesil Beach.

References:

bbc.com

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-33656489

3D printed 26 foot boat

Weird or What? An Eccentric British Artist Intends to 3D Print his own Head using Dust From His Dead Father’s Crushed Skull.

http://3dprint.com/…/artist-plans-to-crush-his-fathers-sku…/

Lee Wagstaff 3d printed skull

British artist Lee Wagstaff had a “difficult” time relating to his father. His distant relationship with his dad has led him to the point where he plans to crush his father’s skull into a fine powder – and use it to replicate a model of his own skull with a 3D printer.

Wagstaff, born in London in the late 1960’s, is an artist who, along with spending five years acquiring a full-body suit of tattoos which he says are based on “cross-cultural geometrical symbols” like circles, squares, swastikas and stars, plans to use what remains of his father to make a replica of his own skull from the ground up bits of his father’s brainpan.

After completing his studies at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, the Royal College of Art in London and Kyoto City University of Arts in Kyoto, Japan, Wagstaff has exhibited his body and large format, photo self-portraits at fine art and performance spaces around the world.

He calls his works “portraits that pursue an alliance between faith, space, geometry and anatomy.”  His current focus is on digital 3D data acquisition and reconstruction processes, and he says those technologies play a central role in his thinking.

wagstaff skull image

Wagstaff says bodily materials are, for him, simply art materials like ink, paint, or plaster. He adds that in tribal art, materials like blood and bone are often used to create art.

“It’s only in a more sanitised, contemporary world that people tend to get sensational about anything a little bit icky,” Wagstafftold The Independent. “The project’s partly about working through this weird relationship. I was interested in the transference of things that my father was – and what he stood for. We grew up with dead things around us, so I have this interest in anatomy, going back to how things work.”

According to Wagstaff, his father, a hunter and gamekeeper at various points in his life, ultimately abandoned the artist and his family to live in the countryside and pursue his own interests. As a result, the artist says he and his family members grew up with dead things around them which led him to explore his fascination with anatomy and how living things are constructed and function.

“Once something is dead – once it’s stripped of all its life and muscles – it just kind of becomes an object, and you have to touch it and really believe that it is what it was,” Wagstaff told VICE UK. “I use my body as an arena for investigation, experimentation and exhibition. As a means of supplication and contemplation.Through repetitive technical processes and abductive reasoning I seek a deeper understanding of my faith and scripture by exploring an aesthetics of theology as part of my own Christian journey.”

Are you appalled or intrigued with artist Lee Wagstaff’s plan to powder his father’s skull and use it to 3D print a replica of his own skull? You can comment on the thread  ‘Artist Plans To Crush His Father’s Skull‘ on 3DPB.com.

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by  | DECEMBER 8, 2014