Tornado fighter jet flown for first time with metal Additive Manufactured part

January 14, 2014

Engineers at BAE Systems in the UK have developed and successfully flown an Additive Manufactured metal part for the first time on board a Tornado fighter jet flown from the company’s airfield at Warton, Lancashire, UK.

tornado

The Tornado was fitted with a 3D printed metal camera

bracket (Image BAE Systems)

The component, a metal camera bracket, is the first 3D printed metal part from BAE Systems to be tested on the Tornado. The company states that it also has engineers designing and producing 3D printed functional components at RAF Marham to support the aircraft when it is being maintained on the ground. These parts are made from a plastic material and include protective covers for Tornado cockpit radios, support struts on the air intake door and protective guards for power take-off shafts.

With some of the parts costing less than £100 per piece to manufacture, Additive Manufacturing has already resulted in savings of more than £300,000 and will offer further potential cost savings of more than £1.2 million between now and 2017, states 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,” stated Mike Murray, Head of Airframe Integration at Warton. “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.”

www.baesystems.com  

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