A team of engineers at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (DEVCOM CBC) has repurposed inkjet printing technology to deposit trace amounts of explosive materials onto surfaces for testing and detection purposes. The engineers, Raphael Moon and Norman Green, have been working on this unique capability since 2010, using a commercial off-the-shelf printer to accurately and reproducibly deposit explosive materials on a multitude of surfaces. To achieve this, the team had to develop ink solutions and engineering options to ensure precision and accuracy within a microgram.
The program has demonstrated that the inkjet printer can duplicate samples with high precision, accuracy, scalability, and flexibility for various use cases. One specific program that has utilized the inkjet printer is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Research Task Group, where trace amounts of explosives are used to create test and evaluation standards. In addition to testing and detection, the team has used the printer for training military working dogs to detect explosives by printing small amounts on sample coupons, simulating sub-surface explosives detection. The highly customizable system is available for various projects, requiring in-depth involvement from the inkjet printing team to assist with the specific needs and requirements of the project, indicating a promising future for the technology.
Overall, the repurposed inkjet printing technology has led to breakthroughs in experimentation and has proved applicable in the field. By allowing for precise and accurate replication of explosive materials, the technology offers new possibilities for military applications, training, and testing.
The innovative approach taken by the DEVCOM CBC to repurpose inkjet printing technology demonstrates the collaborative and multidisciplinary nature of the team, as well as the potential for modern-day printing to push boundaries and capabilities in various fields, including defense technology. With the successful implementation of the inkjet printer in various projects and its potential for future developments, the future looks promising for the technology’s applicability and effectiveness in military and defense operations.