Firestorm Develops Mobile 3D Printing Factory for Drone Production

By on March 14th, 2024 in news, Usage

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Mobile 3D printing drone factory by Firestorm [Source: Firestorm]

A startup company is developing a mobile drone 3D printing factory.

San Diego-based Firestorm has been carefully observing the war in Ukraine. While Ukraine is a much smaller country than their Russian foes, they’ve been holding their own, and even making advancements for over two years.

A large part of their success is through the use of advanced battle drones. These have been used to target both equipment and personnel, and have been extremely successful. Because of this the war managers in Ukraine have elevated the technology, and now there’s large organizational units dedicated to production and use of drones.

Battle drone produced by Firestorm [Source: Firestorm]

Firestorm wants to make the production of drones even easier through the use of mobile 3D printing. Their concept is to to build a shipping container “factory” that contains all the equipment necessary to produce drones in short order.

The “xCell” system concept, shown here, includes 3D printers as well as other necessary gear.

xCell concept [Source: Firestorm]

The 40-ft shipping container format has the capacity to produce up to 50 drones per month. By deploying many of these it would be possible to very quickly scale up production.

There’s another interesting advantage to this approach: distribution. Instead of having a centralized factory producing drones, er, I mean a juicy target for missiles, distributing the xCells across a wide area could significantly reduce the risk of production loss from military action. Even better, the xCell is so small it can easily be camouflaged, or buried where it cannot be seen.

The small scale of the xCell also makes it possible to more rapidly switch gears to produce different models or other variants as required. This would make Ukrainian forces more nimble and able to meet challenges as they occur.

And it’s not just Ukraine: the Ukrainian conflict has clearly demonstrated the utmost importance of drones on the battlefield, which will no doubt change warfare forever. It’s very likely that NATO countries will (or already have) begun to develop new strategies involving use of drones.

Having a way to produce effective drones in the field will be quite important in the future, and it seems that Firestorm wants to be at the center of that action.

This is yet another example of how 3D print technology is blending into specific applications. Instead of “here’s a 3D printer, go make whatever with it”, we have “here’s a system that uses 3D printing to make your stuff”.

Times have changed.

Via Forbes and Firestorm

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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