25 May 2014

FWS Topics: The Advanced Warfare 3D Printer Rifle

The advent of 3D printer technology will revolutionize future society, and fulfill the promise of the Star Trek replicator in a real-world form. While the technology will be used for the civilian market for low-impact micro-production, food, and on-demand fabrication, and there will be military applications. It seems that the minions over at Sledgehammer Games are betting on 3D Printer technology being MILSPEC grade by 2054. No where is this more seen in the "3D Printer Rifle" from incoming military sci-fi game. According to Game Informer Magazine, this bullpup caseless(?) rifle will have a tank of liquid metal or other material that when the player racks the bolt, the next-gen rifle will begin the fabrication of bullets. The number of bullets is limited by the amount of liquid material and the rate-of-fire is governed by the fabrication ability. Heat and environmental conditions could limited the fabrication rate...just a guess. 
From the only image we have of the 3D Printer Rifle, the ammo counter works differently. One number is the amount of bullets manufactured and the capability remaining. Or something like that...Sledgehammer is still working on the weapon and its in-game abilities. When we examine the technology of a weapon like this, it is certain that a weapon like this allows less reloading...but what happens when you run dry? How hard is to reload the tank? Are we talking the easy of paintball air tank or something much more difficult? Could you carry more of these material tanks in the field on your kit rig? How hard would it be to clear a jamming in the printing matrix? While 3D Printing is something new, some of this technology has been featured in MSF books like Old Man's War with CDF MP-35 that used a block of nano-material to fabricate different ammunition types. Another certainty is that with the technology in a Call of Duty game, it will gain popularity and populate in other works. Could be an interesting technology to explore in a blogpost and/or a new book....           


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  2. From what I've gathered there are actually 2 components to fire the weapon. The 3D printer seems to make the projectiles but it seems to also have squarish propellent blocks. I'm not sure if those are also manufactured by the 3D printing device of the weapon. It seems that this would lengthen the reloading process. I think it would be better to have a belt held 3D printer that reloaded a magazine on the fly when an empty mag is put back into the device and a new loaded magazine is taken from the device to be readied into the weapon. That way the printer is busy manufacturing new ammo and the soldier has a loaded and ready weapon, not waiting on the device to create new ammo.

  3. Yeah, I agree that would be a better system than the one I think that is one screen. I've been waiting for Drift0r to upload his 3D Printer Rifle weapon video.

  4. Found this the other day, thought I'd share it here. I think it's how this works from the creator of it.
    Concept I worked on at Sledgehammer Games for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

    Property of Activision Blizzard, Inc.

    *Edit* A number of people have asked how this works. I'll give a fairly detailed description, but remember this is a FICTIONAL design! All you would-be weapon designers, chemists and engineers, feel free to comment away but this is a design for an entertainment product!

    The tube in the back contains "liquid matter." There are two parts to this, the first being a plastic material that makes up the bullet half of the round. The second part is unbonded aluminum and copper oxide. This is the back half of the round, and it is the explosive propellant. Aluminum and copper oxide either burns or explodes when combined depending on the ratios; this is how thermite is made. So the 'liquid matter' tube feeds these ingredients to the printer, which is the removable black thing on top. The printer isn't really a printer, instead it casts sets of four rounds at a time. Remember, each round is front-half plastic, back-half explosive thermite. The rounds look like a blue cylinder, nothing fancy.

    After a set of rounds is cast, the four bullets get pushed up to a storage area in the front, where they are queued to be fed into the magazine. The magazine is the black tube with the brass charging handle. When the user needs to reload, the tube is rotated out and pulled back through the queue area. As it is pulled through, the printed bullets get loaded in, all lined up facing forward. This magazine tube is basically a combination of a shotgun tube and a P90 magazine.

    Once the bullets are loaded in the tube, they are spring pressed towards the back of the tube, where they are forced out a hole in the bottom into the chamber beneath it (a bit left of the barcode). When a bullet is in the chamber, an electrical primer ignites the back half of the explosive thermite, which in turn sends the front half through the barrel and towards the target. A small vent system clears the chamber of smoke and dust before the next round is loaded. I imagine that by the time you've exhausted the liquid matter tube, you would probably need to clean the chamber out, since tiny bits of melted plastic/matter would start to inhibit the operation.

    As for bullet ballistics, that is a complicated science and I'm no expert on it. I imagine that between the bullet being printed with varying density, and the heat of the thermite burning, the projectile could be engineered to become aerodynamic as it leaves the barrel. Sort of how a projectile from a rail gun burns off matter from the friction with the air until it's essentially an aerodynamic spear. Except that this would be moving at a slower speed, but the material of the bullet would be forced into an aerodynamic form because it's a) weaker than the metal from a railgun and b) heated by the thermite already.

    The liquid matter tube does contain a limited supply of material to make bullets with, probably equal to 10-20 magazines. Maybe less. But the purpose of it is not to have unlimited ammunition. A soldier carries the ammunition he needs for a mission, not as much as he can carry. Navy Seals take a surprisingly low amount of magazines on missions. The goal here is to a) remove the need for magazine storage on your vest, and b) to make the operation and reloading even simpler and faster for the user with less training. Speed reloading an AR15 can be blazing fast, but it takes a LOT of practice. This design, for the duration of a single mission, requires nothing other than what it already contains.


  5. Dude, that is awesome and very inventive. While the COD games get their fair amount of shit, they can be very creative and are a vehicle for new ideas to be put into the public consciousness.