Marines’ 3D-Printed ‘Nibbler’ Drone Creating Lessons Learned on Logistics, Counter-UAS

The Nibbler drone was created through 3D printing to be low cost, easily repaired and have simple maintenance to allow Marines to use it.

Marines with 1st Marine Division repair an unmanned aerial vehicle after a flight attempt at Camp Pendleton, June 15, 2017. The Marines built, The Nibbler, a four- rotor UAV with a 20-minute flight time capable of looking over hills and around buildings providing an intelligence advantage over the enemy.

November 20, 2017 | Source: U.S. Naval Institute,, 27 Sept 2017, Megan Eckstein

Marines who recently completed a deployment to U.S. Central Command in support of Operation Inherent Resolve brought with them 3D printers to make their own small quadcopters, learning lessons both on hybrid logistics models and counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations.

Marines built an initial batch of 25 Nibbler UAVs – quadcopters with a dwell time of about 20 to 25 minutes, which can carry cameras or other intelligence payloads and cost about $2,000 apiece to print – and then followed up by making a couple additional vehicles and other various tools and components as needed.

Attempting this additive manufacturing at a tactical level was part of an “advancing the force” mission assigned to the SP-MAGTF, to push the Marine Corps closer to its vision laid out in last year’s Marine Corps Operating Concept.