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3D Printed Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Forbes recently ran an interesting discussion concerning the possibility of 3D printed weapons of mass destruction being created in the near future. This discussion was kicked off by a recent report: “WMD Capabilities Enabled by Additive Manufacturing,” which was sponsored by the Negotiation Design & Strategy, LLC (NDS).

Forbes kicked off its discussion by referring back to the legal wranglings which have been occurring concerning 3D printed guns: the company Defense Distributed in the thick of it all… As the article says: “controlling access to guns and weapons is difficult. But controlling the access to data, all that is needed to print your own weapon, may be impossible. Now, imagine instead of a handgun, anyone with a 3D printer can print out a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD).”

Within Negotiation Design & Strategy’s report, the authors warn: “with the proper blueprints, WMD could be printed by rogue states, terrorists, and even those who have never had the ability to research/create such weaponry before.” As for how these “rogue agents” would get a hold of plutonium in the first place, the report never outlines…

The discussion goes on, however: “the development of missile systems or other delivery systems might be the most impacted by 3D printing. There might be other applications in chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. 3D printing is being used currently for printing parts for fuel assemblies in nuclear reactors, parts for missiles, warheads, and even explosives.”

Seeing how unreliable and difficult to create 3D printed guns are right now, though, it seems difficult to imagine a WMD being produced in a similar manner. However, the report is correct in heralding this warning. Technology can (and has) continued to improve, especially, as the report outlines, when 3D printing is paired with AI or nanotechnology.

The report “warns the potential for a ‘black swan’-type event involving an AM-centered military program to acquire truly novel unconventional/asymmetric military capabilities cannot be ruled out.”

Strategies will have to be developed in order to combat these possibilities in the future.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Forbes

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