PrintArmy: When Small Things Matter

August 29, 2023
The Russian-Ukrainian war has demonstrated the value of modern technologies on the battlefield.
Photo credit: The PrintArmy (DrukArmy) project

3D printing has become one of the most sought-after technologies in all aspects of Ukraine's defence. The PrintArmy (DrukArmy) project has united Ukrainians who, using 3D printing, produce numerous small items vital to Ukrainian soldiers.

UkraineWorld spoke with Yevgen Volnov, the project's co-founder, about how this technology helps the Ukrainian Army.

What is the PrintArmy?

PrintArmy is a community of Ukrainians who print on 3D printers anything that is vital for Ukrainian soldiers while taking their specific needs into account. The main idea is to provide useful small items to the military so that they do not waste their own money on something that can be printed for free or at minimal cost.

Even small things matter at war. Thanks to 3D printing, there’s a possibility to produce a large amount of small details and items that are otherwise unavailable or must be purchased abroad.

One of the most noteworthy examples is a Starlink router protective cap. They are not included in the package because the manufacturer did not foresee difficult combat conditions for their use. The protective caps are required to prevent cables and connectors from being broken. Thus, soldier's comms are not cut off due to unexpected breakdowns.

Moreover, a new cable costs around 130 USD. The production of 77 protective caps costs $12 USD. This, therefore, saves over $10,000 USD.

Capabilities and production

As stands to date, the PrintArmy has currently printed 14 tonnes of products. The team is 803 people strong, with an arsenal of 953 printers. However, this is not enough for the current demand from the Ukrainian military.

The PrintArmy has an order queue of a month and a half ahead of time, meaning that 230% of capacity is at work. So, it’s necessary to find a way to expand the capacity to meet the demands.

The PrintArmy as an organisation optimises and coordinates the activity of the printing team to ensure smooth and targeted production. We’ve worked out a system of automatisation that lets us increase the scope of production. Now we are technically ready to involve more people.

In essence, the PrintArmy is a branch of the military industry, also known as the "people's military industry." The project's creators promote the idea that 3D printing is for everyone. From soldiers' to parents, and to children.

The majority of those involved print at their own expense. Some people want to print but do not have access to plastic. The organisation provides them with plastic purchased with donations.

Some items are printed in thousands of copies. In this way, using moulds would be much more effective. But moulds are expensive, that’s why PrintArmy opts to use 3D printers.

Top products

Cases for spectrum analysers are the number one item in demand. A case allows you to comfortably hold the spectrum analyser and its antenna while determining which direction objects are flying in your direction. There is a huge queue for them. One piece is printed for 10 hours. And we have a waiting list for more than 100 of them.

Launch platforms for drones hold second place. They enable the safe launch of drones. These platforms save lives because it is dangerous to launch an explosive-laden drone while holding it in one's hands.

Trench periscopes are another popular item.They can be purchased in China for $80 USD per piece, but they are not always of the highest quality. That is why self-made ones are out there. The angle is printed, then installed onto a sewer pipe. Thus, a soldier gets a tool that lets him look out of a trench and remain safe. There are several communities that produce trench periscopes. One of the biggest ones is a “Rear Brigade”.

Eye pads are a vital product. They are made using laser cutting rather than 3D printing. We make them to save paramedics money, freeing them up to spend it on something we can't produce ourselves. Online, an eye pad costs about $2.50. The PrintArmy was able to keep its costs down to one cent. And we provide them for free to paramedics.


The biggest need of the PrintArmy is people who can print. No matter where you live, you can join the project. It’s possible to join the PrintArmy even from abroad.

The project will also require information coverage. The more people who share information about its activities, the greater the chances of increasing production. And, as always, we are seeking funds to purchase production materials.

Yevgen Volnov, the PrintArmy (DrukArmy) project's co-founder