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3D Printed Parts for U.S. Air Force’s C-5 Super Galaxy Aircraft

3D Printing Industry reports on yet another U.S. military vehicle getting outfitted with brand new, state of the art 3D printed parts.  This time it’s the U.S. Air Force’s C-5 Super Galaxy Aircraft, which was originally created by Lockheed Martin.  This new installation occurred at the Dover Air Base in Delaware.

This large military transport “has been upgraded with 3D printed metal and plastic parts, reducing sustainment costs.”  As for the incredible flexibility of 3D printing technology, Senior Materials Engineer for the Rapid Sustainment Office (RSO) Eddie Preston boasted: “if you can imagine sitting on a commercial aircraft, everything around you including parts of the seat you are sitting in, we can print.”

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), aims for “the rapid adoption of additive manufacturing.  For this purpose, the DoD founded the Manufacturing USA network.”  Additionally, there has been a concerted effort in recent years among all branches of the U.S. military “to integrate 3D printing into their manufacturing operations.”

In fact, just recently, the U.S. Army has acquired a “Rize One 3D printer by the Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center to manufacture spare parts on demand.”

Concurrently, at the Dover Air Base, Delaware, the U.S. Air Force’s RSO have “installed seventeen 3D printed parts on the C-5 Super Galaxy.  The manufacturing and installation of the parts was a joint effort by the C-5 Program Office, Air Mobility Command, and the 436th Airlift Wing, and, of course, the RSO.”

These 3D printed parts were “fitted in the cabin and crew compartments of the aircraft and included components such as overhead panels, emergency light covers, and gasper (outlet vent for passengers) panels.”

Using traditional manufacturing methods, this process, according to Preston, would have taken anywhere from a week to an entire year.  As for the 3D printing process, its times only ranged “between 24-48 hours.”  The installed 3D printed parts also save the military tens of thousands of dollars.

“In the coming days, the RSO and C-5 Program Office teams will install 20 additional components on the aircraft.  These will be made from polymers and high-end metals such as titanium.”

Images and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Printing Industry

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