The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex (OC-ALC) Tinker Air Force Base in the US has produced an aircraft engine component using 3D printing technology.
The OC-ALC additively manufactured a metal jet engine component, which was subsequently installed and tested successfully on an aircraft.
According to the Air Force Materiel Command unit, the move will serve as a key milestone for the future sustainment of aircraft such as E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System and the B-52 Stratofortress.
The project involved the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group, the Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Lab, and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) Propulsion Sustainment Division.
In collaboration, the entities produced a 3D printed anti-ice gasket for the TF33-P103 engine, which powers the E-3, the B-52 and the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System.
AFLCMC propulsion structural competency lead Johnny Tsiao said: “This is a digitally designed and digitally engineered component that represents a substantial milestone in airforce sustainment.
“Although it is a basic component, the technology our OC-ALC team has developed will help resolve supply chain issues and help bring further capacities to support the warfighter.”
The new technique is expected to solve the potential shortage of anti-ice gaskets. The 3D manufacturing process reduces administrative lead time, the time period between an initial contract and actual component manufacture, from 120-136 days to 14-21 days.