This 3D-printed grenade launcher has helped United States military in raising its game. The grenade launcher resembles a weapon straight out of an action film. Therefore, it has been named RAMBO. RAMBO stands for Rapid Additively Manufactured Ballistics Ordnance.
Although, it is not completely inspired by the Sylvester Stalone character of the same name, it definitely gives the impression that something Rambo would use. Six months were devoted by the military engineers to create the 40-millimeter launcher inspired by the M203 under-barrel style. Apart from the springs and the .38-caliber cartridge, everything was 3-D printed.
According to Army officials, they were happy with the testing performance that first took place in October 2016:
“The testing included 15 test shots with no signs of degradation. All the printed rounds were successfully fired, and the printed launcher performed as expected. There was no wear from the barrel, all the systems held together and the rounds met muzzle velocities within 5 percent of a production M781 fired from a production-grade grenade launcher. The variation in velocities was a result of the cartridge case cracking, and the issue was quickly rectified with a slight design change and additional 3-D printing.”
It has not been confirmed yet by the Army if the 3D-printed grenade launcher will witness combat missions or even further production. Nevertheless, this innovation certainly shows the incline of the US military’s investment in additive manufacturing. Several advantages, including reproducing complex structures for a large scale, are provided by the additive manufacturing and industrial 3D printing.
Additive manufacturing has been deployed for specific jet parts and even medical devices by tradition. Advantages of moving towards additive manufacturing also include reduced waste and minimal assembly efforts. The large scale 3D printing also implies that companies can examine a variety of materials just like the Army did with RAMBO. But, there are still some who are showing reluctance in investing in additive manufacturing due to slower build rates when compared to conventional manufacturing and high production costs.