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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

NAVAIR Looks to Advance 3D Printers, Warfighters

A plastic part, printed from a 3-D printer at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
A plastic part, printed from a 3-D printer at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Photo: U.S. Navy

[Avionics Today 08-12-2014] The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is looking to partner with the industry in order to deliver superior capabilities to the warfighter through 3D printing.

Using their two 3D printers, engineers at AVMI have fabricated components such as antenna covers, environmental cooling system ducts and mechanical spacers, as well as geometrically-representative models for form and fit checks.
 
3D printing, or Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology, has advanced well beyond printing plastics, giving users the ability to print metal, explosives, food, compound materials and more. Since NAVAIR does not yet have these capabilities in-house, it plans to leverage industry to acquire them.
 
“Ultimately, we want to leverage AM to deliver warfighter capability,” said Liz McMichael, NAVAIR’s additive manufacturing integrated product team lead. “To do that, we need to address some key technical challenges, including putting safety-critical AM parts on our aircraft, and making sure we understand how to qualify and certify them. We also need to address the business and acquisition challenges that exist — including contracting, costing, data rights and intellectual property — to enable us to use AM as a standard process.”
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