Marham jets try out first “printed” spare parts

The first The first "printed" parts are being used on RAF Tornado jets. Picture: Ian Burt

Sunday, January 5, 2014
3:31 PM

Technology which could revolutionise aircraft production and save millions off the defence budget is being trialled at RAF Marham.

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BAE Systems has revealed the first 3D printed metal parts have been fitted to Tornado jets at the West Norfolk base.

They include protective covers for radios and air intake support struts, which can be produced within a day for £100 each. BAE said the process would save the RAF £1.2m over four years.

The technique - where a part is built up from layers which are “printed” by machine from a digital prototype - will eventlually mean parts will be able to be maufactured on bases or on ships or aircraft carriers, rather than at factories.

A trial titanium spar has also been manfactured by 3D printing, as part of a research project led by Cranfield University to make larger aircraft parts using the process.

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