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3D-printed components flown in British fighter jet

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posted on Jan, 5 2014 @ 01:41 AM
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Now this is just amazing. 3-D Printing has been used for various things for a good number of years now. The first units I saw ranged from home kits of $8-10 thousand dollars to commercial grade starting around $20,000 a few years back. Those weren't meant to be making critical parts, and it's not quite there for this yet either. It's moving there though, and having them on a plane at all is quite a statement I'd think.


London (AFP) - A Tornado fighter jet fitted with metal components created on a 3D printer undertook a successful test flight in Britain last month, defence company BAE Systems said Sunday.

The plane was equipped with a 3D-printed protective cover for the cockpit radio, a protective guard in the landing gear and support struts on the air intake door, the British firm said.

The announcement follows NASA's successful test of a 3D-printed rocket engine component in August last year, as aerospace companies seek cheaper and quicker ways to manufacture engineering parts.
Source

Whatever else may or may not be coming to pass, it seems one aspect of Star Trek is arriving. The age of a functional "Replicator" unit to fabricate parts is almost a reality. When major aerospace is working to develop it, the money to make things happen quickly and dramatically is coming into play.

I'm guessing they want site-based ability to just fabricate whatever parts are needed and eliminate whole segments of the supply chain in the long run. That would sure make a huge impact across the board in aircraft development and construction.

It would even have dramatic political impact I suppose, as military aircraft contracts are some of the sweetheart deals for spreading a little to everyone's districts. That won't work out if the little is simply coming out of a printing chamber in a special airport maintenance shop.




posted on Jan, 5 2014 @ 03:17 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


This is a precursor of Star Trek replicator


In a few decades time...I think this tech will be so advanced...everyone will have one at home...like normal printers we have these days. I remember when printers first came out...it was a cutting edge tech...and only institutions could afford one. Today...everyone has them.

Anyway...I'm very excited about these 3-D printers and where it can take us as a civilization.



posted on Jan, 5 2014 @ 03:20 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 





I'm guessing they want site-based ability to just fabricate whatever parts are needed and eliminate whole segments of the supply chain in the long run. That would sure make a huge impact across the board in aircraft development and construction.

It would even have dramatic political impact I suppose, as military aircraft contracts are some of the sweetheart deals for spreading a little to everyone's districts. That won't work out if the little is simply coming out of a printing chamber in a special airport maintenance shop.



I agree..it could certainly offset the current economic paradigm at first...after that...a political one. But...not just yet. As soon as it becomes an "end user" product.



posted on Jan, 5 2014 @ 03:27 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


It won't be long before the entire aircraft is 3d printed.

No rivets and no seams....hmmm.



posted on Jan, 5 2014 @ 03:28 AM
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BAE were looking at and made parts for the illfated Nimrod MRA4, I couldnt tell you if they flew, I dont think the parts did, but I worked on that about 12 years ago when we had a small 3D lab.

At the time we would make parts for wind tunnel models, send them to a foundry to cast them into allum.

As the tooling was so expensive for a production run of just 24 aircraft, we made a couple of castings from 3D Printed moulds. They took forever to rise from the wax reservoir!

The issue at the time was the repeatability and then when we got the part back from the foundry you couldnt do any acceptance testing as there wasnt a drawing with datums etc.

We discussed if there was a 3D scanner which could essentially measure and accept the parts but you can imagine the horror on the faces of flight worthyness and QA.

I was actively pushing it because I read a Flight Article back then that the US had made some/all of the AV8B castings in a 3D Printer to prove the tech - we had 2 machines and 1.5 guys. Well, 12 or so years later it looks like its coming a reality!

How times have changed!

Im not sure if this was the article I read, I think it was later, perhaps it was an output of this research I read much later - the technology then was called Rapid Prototyping, so probably a bit different to this but definately the forerunner.

The article:

www.flightglobal.com...


edit on 5-1-2014 by IamSirDrinksalot because: Did a bit of Google.

edit on 5-1-2014 by IamSirDrinksalot because: (no reason given)

edit on 5-1-2014 by IamSirDrinksalot because: (no reason given)

edit on 5-1-2014 by IamSirDrinksalot because: I cant work the link



posted on Jan, 5 2014 @ 08:26 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


while 3D printing of metal has finally begun to make inroads,don't believe it will replace other methods.Sure,it can make a shape,but there are still inherent weaknesses in the structure of the material.Metal is a lot like wood,with a grain structure.Compare a piece of oak to particle board.And the fact that even simple parts can be made faster and cheaper using current machine methods



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