“I don’t like using the words ‘trade war,’ but I can’t
see how this isn’t part of warlike behavior.”
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker
on steel and aluminum tariffs proposed by the U.S. government,
quoted in the Financial Times on March 2, 2018.
Additive manufacturing has its charms, but expect perils too.
RAND, the research organization,
investigated the impact of 3-D
printing, and the groups said by
2040, improvements in additive
manufacturing could bring significant security risks.
For instance, the U.S. Army has
3-D printed a grenade launcher
called RAMBO (Rapid Additively
Manufactured Ballistics Ordnance),
and it’s expected non-state actors
will have that capability soon if they
gain access to the digital file.
As a proof of concept, guns have
already been printed.
Industrial-scale 3-D printers
could also blunt the coercive power
of trade sanctions. “Economic sanctions and trade embargoes would
become far less effective if rogue
states could simply print what they
need,” the RAND study said.
There’s also the fear of additive
manufacturing and robots taking away jobs, but it could impact
globalization with more products
locally sourced. Countries such as
China—which rely heavily on manufacturing exports—could be one of
the first countries to be affected by
shortened supply chains.
The benefits of 3-D printing
outweigh the threats, RAND wrote,
but countries would be wise to build
additive manufacturing strategies
revolving around access to materials, hardware, software, and intellectual property to prepare for its
disruptive effects. ME
Additive manufacturing can produce
munitions as well as knickknacks.