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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.
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.