Three-dimensional printing is a process that permits cheaper and quicker production of equipment from layers of metal and plastic powder. Global Marine Technology Trends 2030 report, published Monday says craft up to 15-meters (50 feet) long can be 3D-printed and Britain’s navy could be using a fleet of such small ships within 15 years.
Unmanned sub-surface torpedo-shaped vessels for use in locating and destroying mines are already being considered by the Royal Navy.
Qinetiq is also testing communications between unmanned surface ships, underwater vessels and aerial vehicles for autonomous missions after being released from a manned naval vessel. British Navy is gearing to face the possible 20 billion pound reduction from public spending over the next four years.
New-build vessels such as the BAE Systems Plc Type 45 Destroyer and Type 26 frigate will be more compatible with modular upgrades to accommodate the latest technology of 3D-printing.