A US startup will create mini-factories for rapid 3D printing of combat drones: Ukraine can get them

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
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Firestorm Labs, a San Diego-based American startup, is working on cheap and miniaturized 3D printing factories for drones that can be used in combat zones, including Ukraine. The company has already managed to raise $12 million from sponsors such as Lockheed Martin, one of the largest American military-industrial corporations.

The details of the idea that Firestorm Labs is working on were revealed by Interesting Engineering. Interestingly, the company was founded after 3D printing engineer Jan Mutseus visited Kyiv in February 2024.

The idea is to create miniature 3D printing plants for drones that can be placed in a shipping container and then deployed anywhere in the world. Currently, there is a prototype of such a container called xCell, which allows the production of a drone in less than 24 hours.

Two types of containers for manufacturing drones have been developed so far: 6 meters and 12.2 meters. According to Firestorm Lab, these mini-factories will be able to produce about 50 drones per month.

Due to their size, such mini-factories can be deployed even in remote locations and hidden from prying eyes. The drone production is semi-automatic, and autonomous generators are used for power supply.

Currently, Firestorm Lab's flagship product is the Tempest drone, made using 3D printing.

Tempest Drone Firestorm Labs

It has a maximum takeoff weight of 25 kg and can carry a payload of 4.5 kg. The wingspan of this drone is 2.1 meters and its length is 1.8 meters. The drone can also be customized depending on the required flight range, time in the air, and cruising speed.

For ease of transportation, the drone can be disassembled into separate parts that can be carried by one person. Tempest has interchangeable propulsion systems for different mission needs and is equipped with a "patented quick connect/disconnect system" that allows for quick on-the-fly configuration changes.

Currently, Firestorm Labs plans to deploy facilities at its San Diego plant that will allow it to produce more than 500 drones per month.

Such miniature factories for 3D printing drones could be a significant advantage for Ukraine in the war against Russia, given the unstable supply of weapons from Western countries.

Although critics believe that this technology is not yet ready for use on a large scale, its potential has already been evaluated and supported by the Pentagon.

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