The British Army Wants to 3D Print the Military of the Future

There is an old truism saying that no new technology has truly made it until it has been used to deliver porn or been turned into something that can kill by the military. In that, 3D printing is no different and has been used for both purposes multiple times. Of course there is nothing especially new about the army looking to 3D printing for military applications, but the scope of this new contract is looking even further than additive manufacturing technology, and looking at all types of future tech.

This week the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory contracted defense research and development firm Roke Manor Research Limited to conduct a Science and Technology Watch Programme to identify and develop the technology of the military in the 2030-2040 timescale. Roke has taken the contract and hit the ground running by reaching out to high tech companies and start-ups, private research and development firms, and universities for new, advanced technology with the potential to fulfil military applications. Interested organisations are encouraged to submit applications on their Techwatch web portal.

future soldier 3d printing

“We will be scanning the market for innovative technologies that are in the early stages of development so that the Army can consider their exploitation,” Roke Science and Technology Watch Technical Lead Jonathan Farrington explained. “Developing and managing innovation is at the heart of everything that Roke does and we want to work with like-minded organisations. This is an excellent opportunity for both academia and the commercial sector to promote their ideas to the Army and become major contributors to the future development of the UK’s land forces.”

The potential applications that they are looking to support are close combat, artillery support, aircraft, military engineering and information gathering and outreach. Roke expects that technology from the 3D printing and additive manufacturing industry, the materials industry, augmented human performance, big data, communications technology robotics, sensors, and synthetic biology could be adapted to support these areas of interest.

The first phase of the research program is expected to last for 18 months when Roke will present the UK military with a report on applicable technologies. The UK Army has specified that technologies that could help land combatants would be the focus of the outreach and information gathering program. If you think that your business has potential applications for military uses then you can submit your work directly to Roke on their Techwatch web portal.