3D printing may be a rather recent technology but it is already being used extensively in a number of industries today. The notable defence company, BAE Systems, has now revealed that it has manufactured RAF Tornado fighter jets by using 3D printed parts.
Over time, the precision and detail which could be added to a 3D-printed part, has improved significantly. Today, a number of industries make use of 3D printers to manufacture parts for machines and other hardware. In the case of BAE Systems, the company uses the technology to manufacture cockpit radio covers as well as guards for take-off shafts.
For now, these 3D printed parts have been used in a test flight of an RAF jet. The flight was carried out at BAE’s airfield in Warton, Lancashire. The reason why the firm is working on this frontier is that it promises to help BAE Systems cut its maintenance and service bill by a huge margin. The company estimates that it will be able to trim down £1.2m in these expenses over the course of next four years.
Moreover, 3D printing also offers a highly flexible mode of manufacturing parts. According to the head of airframe integration at BAE Systems, “You are suddenly not fixed in terms of where you have to manufacture these things. You can manufacture the products at 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.”