The first ever fighter jet to include 3D printed parts has taken its maiden voyage from an airfield in Waron, Lancashire. Manufactured by BAE Systems, a global defence company, the Tornado jet fighter packs three key components printed in metal: the protective cover for the cockpit radio, the landing gear and the support struts on the air intake door.
In our recent article RAPID GROWTH AND MAJOR CHANGE: Reports predict an exciting year ahead for 3D printing, we noted that most major analysts were predicting the future of 3D printing to be in metal. While it might be consumer 3D printing that catches people’s attention, the more likely area for real demand and development is in large scale manufacturing, particularly in the field of medical supplies and aerospace.
The reason these industries take such an interest in additive manufacturing is best online casino that it offers improved customisability, speed and affordability on their traditional methods.
With 3D printing, the location on which you print an aeroplane component is not fixed. Rather than requiring a centralised factory from which all parts are produced and shipped, a 3D printer can simply be installed on each base or, possibly, even on the front-line.
BAE reckons that, in four years time, these methods could be saving the RAF up to £1.2 million per year, as they will drastically reduce its maintenance and servicing costs. A part that once cost thousands to make and ship could be printed off for a few hundred quid, while transport times could be eliminated entirely.
For anybody who doubts the claim, it should be noted that BAE Systems has plenty of form in this area: it was responsible for the revolutionary 1.2 m titanium wingspar that was printed last December, one of the largest metal parts yet created.