3D-printed components flown in British fighter jet

Jan 05, 2014
A designer looks at a 3D printer during an exhibition in London on April 23, 2013

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.

"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, announcing the successful test flight at the firm's airfield in Warton, northwest England.

"You can manufacture the products and whatever base you want, providing you can get a machine there, which means you can also start to support other platforms such as ships and aircraft carriers.

"And if it's feasible to get machines out on the front line, it also gives improved capability where we wouldn't traditionally have any manufacturing support."

BAE said some of the parts—produced at a Royal Air Force base in eastern England—cost less than £100 ($165, 120 euros) to manufacture, and had the potential to save hundreds of thousands of pounds every year, without giving details.

Explore further: Titanium powder used to 3D print automotive parts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Titanium powder used to 3D print automotive parts

Dec 10, 2013

(Phys.org) —To date, the 3D printing revolution has focused on the use of plastics – cheap printers' feedstock and high throughput. Until now 3D printing with metal has been prohibitively expensive because ...

British project uses 3D printing for prosthetic eyes

Nov 30, 2013

(Phys.org) —A collaboration between UK's Fripp Design and Research and Manchester Metropolitan University has resulted in 3D printed prosthetic eyes/ The eyes are another advancement from Fripp, a product ...

Recommended for you

How polymer banknotes were invented

Nov 26, 2014

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and CSIRO's 20-year "bank project" resulted in the introduction of the polymer banknote – the first ever of its kind, and the most secure form of currency in the world. ...

Enabling the hearing impaired to locate human speakers

Nov 26, 2014

New wireless microphones systems developed at EPFL should allow the hearing impaired to aurally identify, even with closed eyes, the location of the person speaking. This new technology will be used in classrooms ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Skepticus
not rated yet Jan 05, 2014
Only the protective guard in the landing gear and support struts on the air intake door are of some importance. The protective cover on the radio is just a superfluous touch. None are mission critical, like jet nozzle actuators, or hot engine parts. 3D printed parts in warplanes have a long way to go yet.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.