The U.S. Army has built and fired an almost entirely 3D-printed 40mm grenade launcher. Scientists and engineers hope the prototype will set the stage for projects in the laboratory and on the battlefield.
The Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey modeled the proof-of-concept Rapid Additively Manufactured Ballistics Ordnance (RAMBO) on the Army-standard M203 grenade launcher and marked it “M203XX.” The production process for 90 percent of the components was at least partially automated, though engineers had to assemble the final weapons by hand. Certain springs and fasteners were too small and complex for a 3D printer. The project also produced training rounds based on the M781, but engineers had to manually add the explosive propellant right before the test shots.