Manufacturing processes are a series of simple or complex independent sub-processes finally merging seamlessly to result in the manifestation of an amalgamated entity. Over the years, the manufacturing process is refined and is aided now by advanced techniques involving computers. The integration of computer operation in designing and subsequent execution or production has resulted in immense improvement in quality and consistency of the products. High end products used in the armed forces or in space operations require highest precision and consistent reproducibility. Greatest emphasis is given to research in these segments of the manufacturing industry. Simultaneous development in computer aided design has made very significant changes in production methods of every single item, small or big, light or heavy.
US Army Contemplates 3D-Printed Warheads!
3-D Printing is synonymous with additive manufacturing. The concept of additive manufacturing is based on smart operational sequences aided and fully controlled by CAD techniques. The acronym CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. The preponderance of CAD has given a literal cutting edge to manufacturing industry. CAD can be used in two dimensional space or three dimensional space. In case of additive manufacturing the technology is used in three dimensional space, by the use of layers. Layers of paper, metal or synthetic polymer is injected successively and joined together by fusing techniques. The layers are pre-cut as per requirement. Extrusion method of special grade plastic material is also an option in such situations. Many objects could be created by various designing ideas. Appropriate computer tools as also mechanical devices are developed to fine tune the desired product. Army administration of U.S. was the first to seize the opportunity offered by 3-D printing. Army strategists and researchers discovered the utility of this technique in refining arms and warheads. Metallic shapes can be printed very economically by employing this tool. Certain complex contours in metallic parts of the arms were very difficult to machine. Quite a few parts were found very expensive to produce. A relatively simpler alternative was found in employing 3-D printing.
Warheads are meant for specific destruction of enemy properties. Since the designated target belongs to enemy, the destruction is desired precisely, in shortest possible time, with greatest impact and least collateral damage. Specific warheads are employed for blasting masonry or concrete walls or for metallic obstructions. The warheads are expected to spread rapidly and radiate in all directions to achieve maximum impact, when blasted. Sizes and shapes of warheads also may vary according to desired effect. A new batch of researchers is engaged to harness fullest potential of newer ideas. There are limitless opportunities in designing the size, shape or material of armaments. Using optimization methods, changes in the design of warhead can be made. Reduction in weight of warhead, thereby increasing payload carrying capacity is achieved. Components in arms can be integrated in 3-D printing method. This practice would allow reduction in manufacturing time span very significantly. The road map for further research in this field envisages fine tuning all procedures involved and maximum integration. Detonation procedures can also be radically changed in an altered design. Cost reduction is by product of this exercise.
Defense analysts in the U.S. have almost unanimously accepted the idea of 3-D printing for producing warheads. The strategists are busy creating infrastructure and research facilities to work in unison. Other countries have not reached the level of U.S. in terms of competence in the field of 3-D printing. The U.S. is bound to get an early bird advantage.