BAE Systems using 3D Printing

Grey Havoc

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Oct 9, 2009
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British defence giant BAE Systems has become the latest company to take advantage of 3D printing technology to help manufacture components for fighter planes.

The company said on Sunday that a Tornado fighter jet fitted with parts that were printed in a machine, completed a successful test flight, potentially paving the way for the wider use of the technique in other manufacturing processes. The flight is significant as it is claimed to be the first made by a combat aircraft fitted with such parts.

Many experts are predicting that 3D printing will transform manufacturing and reduce the cost of making a range of products from advanced technology to plastic toys, with consumers able to make their own products at home on demand.

“You are suddenly not fixed in terms of where you have to manufacture these things,” said Mike Murray, head of Airframe Integration at BAE Systems, following the test.

BAE said the parts, which included a cockpit radio cover and components in the landing gear of the Tornado, were produced on site at a Royal Air Force base and that the process had the potential to save hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in maintenance and refit costs.


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