- A 3D printed shelter for Officers and Junior Commissioned Officers has also been constructed in the desert sector.
The Indian Army announced today that it has constructed 3D printed bunkers or permanent defences along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh. These are the first of their kind in India, and they are said to withstand tank fire from close range.
Military Engineering Services (MES) and start-ups, including those from IIT-Gandhinagar and IIT-Madras, have developed 3D printed structures of varying sizes and capabilities, the smallest of which can accommodate two personnel. According to defence sources, successful trials against a T-90 fire from 100 meters have also taken place in the Western or the Desert sector.
3D Printed Bunkers
The MES plans to deploy permanent 3D printed shelters, such as bunkers and houses, beginning next summer in shifts near forward locations along the Line of Actual Control and International Border, from Ladakh, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh to desert regions.
The MES began with the intention of having a structure for two personnel that would weigh 80 kg, but it was reduced to 40 kg for better mobility to higher reaches. This weight reduction undoubtedly reduces its ability to withstand damage, but at higher altitudes, there are few chances of a tank battle, and fighting may be limited to handheld weapons and such structures are more than sufficient to withstand even heavy barrage of high-calibre ammunition.
The benefit of using 3D printing technology is that a 3D printed structure can be built as a single block or pre-fabricated parts can be assembled to complete the structure. The construction time is also significantly reduced, and interestingly, the 3D printer can be stationed nearby at the nearest or safest supply depot, providing bunker replacements as and when they are required on the battlefield, similar to how other items such as ammunition, medication, and rations are replenished.
“The 3D printed bunkers are able to withstand blasts, can be erected within 36-48 hours and relocated from one place to another. 3D printed permanent defences have been constructed for the first time by Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers in the desert sector. These defences were trial tested against a range of weapons from small arms to the main gun of T90 tank.”– Lt Gen Harpal Singh, Engineer in Chief, Indian Army
3D Construction Printing Projects by Indian Army
The MES is also attempting to construct a three-story building with a 30,000 crore annual budget. This will be a game changer, if successful, and will be useful for quickly establishing forward posts and bases in forward locations such as Eastern Ladakh, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. It will also help in rebuilding damaged building, bunkers and other structures.
The Indian Army, particularly the MES, appears to have decided to put 3D printing technology to the test for as many army structures as possible. Because the technology is green, clean, and renewable, and allows for faster construction and, in some cases, greater strength, it will be less expensive in the long run. And this is consistent with previous projects such as the Air Traffic Control tower in Pune, 3D printed houses for Jawans in Gujarat, Sentry post, and others.
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