Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.

In an article in the January-March 2019 issue of Army AL&T Magazine, senior editor Steve Stark spoke of how the United States Army is increasingly using 3D printing. For example, their Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Centre has been collaborating American multinational conglomerate General Electric Company of Boston, Massachusetts to 3D print parts for the T700 motor; it is used in Apache and Black Hawk helicopters. However, as of March 2019, the relevant motor parts aren’t in use, as they have yet to be tested and qualified to the army’s standards.

The United States Army hope to eventually enable soldiers deployed all over the world to make almost anything they need in the field and on demand via 3D printing. The United States Navy and the United States Air Force are already increasingly availing themselves of additive manufacturing’s existence.

Circa December 2017, a team of engineers from the University of Connecticut (UConn), created a system to sense variations in temperature and mechanical strain to pinpoint location(s) of a ship’s mechanical problem(s). It deposits a special ceramic oxide compound onto a specially structured 3D printed part made of Inconel 718, which is a nickel and chromium based high-performance alloy. This gives the potential for 3D printing to be used to fix and/or replace the relevant part(s) while out at sea, saving on the time and/or money needed to take the ship offline and/or bring it back to port.

The research team was fronted by UConn Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Rainer Hebert, who is also the director of UConn’s Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Centre. The results of an experiment to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the system’s workings were published in a paper in the January 1st 2017 issue of the Acta Materialia journal.

Circa July 2018, the United States Air Force’s 388th Maintenance Group of the Hill Air Force Base of Utah began 3D printing specific replacement parts for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, such as cable splitters, fasteners, grommets, housing boxes and wiring harnesses. The first two F-35s arrived at the base in September 2015. By the end of 2019, the maintenance group hope there will be three complete fighter squadrons at the base, which would comprise a total of 78 aircraft.

3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.

Disclaimer: Featured image of “American World War II senior military officials, 1945” is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.