Air Combat Command has announced a metallic 3D printed part has been installed on an operational F-22 Raptor by 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintainers, the company said.
Air Force has routinely used 3D printing for legacy aircraft requiring parts that may be out of production due to manufacturing obsolescence.
The use of 3D printing gives maintainers the ability to acquire replacement parts on short notice without minimum order quantities. This not only saves taxpayer dollars, but reduces the time the aircraft is in maintenance.
The printed part replaces a corrosion-prone aluminum component in the kick panel assembly of the cockpit that is replaced 80 percent of the time during maintenance.
The part will be monitored while in service and inspected when the aircraft returns to Hill AFB for maintenance. If validated, the part will be installed on all F-22 aircraft during maintenance.
The printed titanium bracket is only the first of many metallic additive manufactured parts planned through public-private partnerships. There are at least five more metallic 3D printed parts planned for validation on the F-22.
This will enable faster repair and reduce the turnaround returning the aircraft back to the warfighter.