US Army Research Laboratory Can Develop 3D Printed UAS for Army in 24 Hours



As a part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has begun combining UAS with 3D printing technology, to create UAS that can be automatically programmed to conduct missions involving aerial surveillance, communication, and delivery.

The UAS take just 24 hours to design, test and make the final delivery to the Army, and according to Eric Spero, team leader and project manager at the ARL, that timeline is perfect for the Army.

“We thought they're not going to think that's fast enough, but, actually it was the opposite,” Spero said via “The timeline of 24 hours to receive a mission-custom unmanned aircraft system fits right in line with the way they plan and execute their missions.”

In December, engineers from the ARL demonstrated the UAS in Fort Benning, Georgia at the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWE). During the demonstrations, the ARL received feedback on how to improve the UAS. Some of the things that researchers will work on going forward include lowering the noise level of the UAS, and increasing their payload capacity and standoff distance.

According to John Gerdes, an engineer that works on the UAS, combining unmanned aerial systems with 3D printing technology makes all the sense in the world.

“Drones or quadcopters are really getting big right now—I mean, in particular, just the commercial and hobby markets have shown what can be done with a small amount of money,” Gerdes said.

“Additive manufacturing or 3D printing has become huge and everybody knows all the great things that can be done with 3D printers. So we figured let's assemble these two new technologies and provide a solution to soldiers that need something right now and don't want to wait for it.”

Video footage of flight tests of the UAS can be seen here.

<< Back to the News