For the first time, UK fighter jets have been flying whilst using 3D printed parts. The reason why 3D printed parts for fighter jets are so useful is that they have the ability to cut costs over £1.2 million over the next four years.
Therefore, on Sunday defense company BAE Systems has brought the news that Tornado fighter jets with 3D printed metallic parts have made a successful test flight at the airfield of the defense firm at Warton, England. This test flight took place in December last year. Some parts made by 3D printing techniques costed less than £100 to produce.
Mike Murray, who’s Head of Airframe Intregation at BAE Systems says: “You are suddenly not fixed in terms of where you have to manufacture these things. 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.”
But what parts of the jet did they exactly 3D print? The British firm has said that it’s a protective cover for the cockpit radio, a protective guard in the landing gear and support struts on the air intake door. Little things, but parts that are expensive to produce if you can’t use an innovative technique such as 3D printing.
All in all, given the fact that 3D printing could cut defense costs by as much as £1.2 million in only four years, there’s a new reason why this technique could give economies a new boost during the recession. Without having to use actual economic cuts, the UK saves more than a million pounds. Or in other words: 3D printing guns is illegal in Great-Britain, but that does not mean that it will not at all be used for all UK defense purposes.
Credits image: AFP.