December 2, 2016
Malmstrom’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team is turning spools of plastic into land mines and mortars with a new 3D printer they say is revolutionizing the Air Force.
“That’s probably the biggest advantage of the 3D printer, the speed at which it allows us to change our tactics,” EOD flight commander Capt. Daniel Blomberg said.
EOD says they’re now able to better capitalize on their resources and practice with the most up-to-date scenarios and training aids that look exactly like real bombs. The only difference is they can now perform operations from start to finish.
“We are Explosive Ordnance Disposal, so not being able to dispose of things really limits our training,” EOD team leader Tech Sgt. Paul Willson said. “Now we are able to dispose of things.”
They put the printed products to test during their weekly training.
Airmen demonstrated how the printer’s designs translate to their work on the ground. During training, the printer allows them to plant multiple weapons (since that’s what they face when fighting enemies) after printing them.
Terrorist groups like ISIS are using weapons the US military is sometimes unfamiliar with or doesn’t have. This printer changes that, allowing Airmen to replicate those weapons so they have a better picture of what they’re fighting against.
“In our jobs as EOD, the enemy gets a vote, and the sad part is it’s very loud in EOD,” Capt. Blomberg says. “So that means we have to innovate as quickly as they are, and a 3D printer is going to allow us to do that faster than we have ever been able to.”
This new technology will also help bring costs down when it comes to the Department of Defense budget.