3-D printed metal parts flight tested in RAF jet for first time

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  1. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    [article]

    A fighter jet used by the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force flew with 3-D printed metal components for the first time recently, according to the plane’s manufacturer.

    The air intake support struts, protective guards for take-off shafts and cockpit radio covers inside the Tornado jet were all made by 3-D metal printing, said defense manufacturer BAE Systems.

    The test flight took place at RAF Warton, England, but BAE Systems is deploying 3-D printers at other installations in an effort to explore cheaper ways to supply aircraft parts.

    “You are suddenly not fixed in terms of where you have to manufacture these things,” said Mike Murray, head of airframe integration at BAE Systems, in a release.

    Even the front lines are an option, said Murray, as long as “you can get a machine there.”

    The U.S. Navy can make 83 plastic parts for its F/A-18 jet and more than 300 for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter via 3-D printing, as reported in a Stars and Stripes story last year.
     
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