At the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, southern Japan, 3D printing is now in use to keep F/A-18 Hornet multirole fighters airborne.
MCAS Iwakuni engineers have devised two products that reduce the time it takes to repair the fighter jets, saving costs for the U.S. Department of Defense. The products help with the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the fighter jets, covering all tasks carried out to ensure the airworthiness of an flight vehicle.
The 3D printed products include an engine ship kit, designed by the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 (MALS 12), and a plastic ring kit that helps the maintenance of the bearings on the F/A-18’s Gatling gun.
FATHOM, a Californian design studio, has used additive manufacturing to create a Modular Logistics Vehicle (MLV) for the United States Marine Corps (USMC).
Frustrated by the unresponsiveness of traditional supply chains, Marines from the 29 Palms base generated the concept of converting standard utility vehicles into customizable transport suited for a diverse range of missions.
This project was facilitated by the Launch Forth platform, as well as Deloitte, and Siemens.
A team of U.S. Marines 3D printed a part for the F-35 stealth fighter saving $70,000 in costs for a whole new landing gear door.
The component is a small part mounted on the door pressing it into the latch. It was designed and 3D printed by Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 31 (CLB-31) in Carderock, Maryland.
Sam Pratt, a mechanical engineer at the Carderock’s Additive Manufacturing Project Office, provided further technical assistance to the team.
Soldiers on the battlefield or at remote bases often have to wait weeks for vital replacement parts. Now scientists report they have found a way to fabricate many of these parts within hours under combat conditions using water bottles, cardboard and other recyclable materials found on base as starting materials for 3D printing. They say this ‘game-changing’ advance could improve operational readiness, reduce dependence on outside supply chains and enhance safety.
The researchers are presenting their work today at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 10,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
Following a letter from U.S. Senator, Chuck Grassley demanding justification for the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) expenditure on $10,000 military aircraft toilet seat covers, Airforce officials have announced that it will now pay $300 to produce the part thanks to 3D printing.
“You’ll think: there’s no way it costs that,” said Dr. Will Roper, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics in a recent interview with Defense One.
“It doesn’t, but you’re asking a company to produce it and they’re producing something else. And for them to produce this part for us, they have to quit what they’re making now. They’re losing revenue and profit.”
3D printer and market darling Titomic is sailing ahead with a plan to print ship parts for Fincantieri — one of the biggest naval vessel producers on the planet.
Melbourne-based Titomic (ASX:TTT) — which is up around 1125 per cent on last year’s IPO price — is in the “metal additive manufacturing” game.
Its 3D printing technique, Titomic Kinetic Fusion, can build metal parts to customisable shapes for use in a whole range of sectors, from aerospace to sporting goods.
The technology, which was co-developed at CSIRO, can produce parts up to 30 times faster than conventional hardware and can join dissimilar metals together to produce one structure, without the need for welding or joining.
Naval Group, a French industrial group focusing on naval defence and marine renewable energy, and Centrale Nantes engineering school have successfully 3D printed their first full-scale propeller blade demonstrator using the Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) process.
This large, geometrically complex blade weighing over 300kg was produced under the framework of the Joint Laboratory of Marine technology, which aims to create qualified naval innovations for application in military shipbuilding.
The production of this propeller is part of longer roadmap to provide greater efficiency for ships at sea by improving performance-based areas such as propulsion and stealth.
Additive manufacturing—colloquially known as 3D printing—is starting to revolutionize military logistics. Recently, a U.S. Marine Corps unit— Combat Logistic Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit—provided a replacement part for a forward deployed Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121).
The aircraft in question had a small plastic component on its landing gear door wear out. While the piece was relatively small and insignificant, it nonetheless would have required the entire door assembly to be replaced. However, the Marines were able to print out a new bumper and install it in a matter of days rather than waiting for weeks for a new replacement door assembly to arrive.
U.S. Marines with Combat Logistic Battalion 31 (CLB), part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), are using 3D printing to create spare parts.
The 31st MEU deploys with little notice, as the need arises. The nature of their mission means that sending replacement parts around the world is not often feasible, something that leads Sgt. Adrian Willis to say to the official U.S Marines site that “3D printing is definitely the future – it’s absolutely the direction the Marine Corps needs to be going”
The U.S. Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) is ramping up production of 3D printed parts.
System Command estimates that it will have approximately 1,000 3D printed parts approved for use across the fleet before the end of 2018. Currently only 135 3D printed parts are authorised for use.
3D printing helmets to flight-critical parts
3D printed parts will be used in a range of Naval applications, from modifications to helmets to critical parts for aircraft: NAVAIR categorizes parts depending on their air-worthiness. Parts not requiring airworthiness can be fabricated more quickly.
In 2016 NAVAIR proved that 3D printing could be used to produce safety-critical parts with the successful flight of an MV-22B Osprey, fitted with a 3D printed titanium engine nacelle link and attachment. Last spring, a 3D printed flip-top valve was added to the T-45 Goshawk breathing mask, allowing pilots in training to breathe cabin air up to a certain altitude. 300 valves were printed within a month without which training would have been impossible.