Additive manufacturing is a technology that "will challenge" the U.S. military in the future because it can be "leveraged by non-state actors in a way that will really improve their ability to fight," according to a naval analyst.
David Knoll, a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, said additive manufacturing, otherwise known as 3D printing, significantly lowers the skill required to assemble devices because circuit boards can be 3D printed directly onto components.
"The person who happens to build or assemble that final product doesn't need to have any skill at all," Knoll said Sept. 20 at the Modern Day Marine exposition in Quantico, VA. "All they need to do is download the software, press print and rather than have 100 components they have to put together in a skilled way, they have four components with the circuit boards already printed on."
Inside the Navy previously reported the Marine Corps Rapid Capabilities Office is seeking information about additively manufactured unmanned aerial systems.
"Everything is moving towards more unmanned. So, we're trying to rapidly grow more unmanned systems," Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, deputy commandant for combat development and integration, told ITN after a presentation at a Sept. 6 conference. "If we can additively manufacture those [UAS] out there, it's going to allow us to keep the pace and tempo up."