3D electronic printing holds promise of various applications for Soldiers

As researchers at Picatinny Arsenal explore the potential of 3-dimensional printing, they envision the potential to embed a radio antenna on the side of a Soldier’s helmet, or print sensors directly onto a weapon or even an article of clothing.

Over the past few years, advancements in 3D printing have enabled scientists to print items ranging from body organs to candy. At Picatinny, scientists and engineers are using additive manufacturing and 3D printing to print electronics, weapon components, and training models.

Additive manufacturing, which includes 3D printing, lets engineers create three-dimensional solid objects based on digital models, explained James Zunino, Materials Engineer and Printed Electronics, Energetic, Materials, & Sensors, or PEEMS, Co-Chair.

The printers work by using lasers or another heat source to meld gypsum, metal powders, plastic filaments or other materials “built” layer-by-layer to create tangible 3D objects. At the forefront of Zunino’s 3D research is electronic printing — using an ink-jet printer to print electronics, such as munitions antennas, fuze elements and batteries. Inks that can conduct electric current, such as silver, are printed in layers onto a film surface, creating conductors, semiconductors or resistors.

Radio antenna on helmet
This process allows engineers to potentially print sensors directly onto a weapon or an article of clothing. … (Read more)

Source: Army.mil