Edwards Air Force Base 3D Prints Aircraft Parts

The base is using an industrial plastic printer to produce and fit parts to save time, costs

Staff Sgt. Cameron Canupp and Steven Conway of the 412th Maintenance Squadron, pose with the 3D printer at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The printer can be used to manufacture hard-to-find parts and helps cut down on time maintenance time and costs. Image courtesy of U.S. Air Force/Matthew Williams


The 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base in California is using 3D printing technology to help maintain aircraft, including aging planes with difficult-to-obtain repair parts.

 “As our airframes age and parts become more difficult to procure, the ability to cost-effectively reproduce those end item allows the units to maintain a higher mission capability rate with a lower cost,” said Steven Conway, 412th Maintenance Squadron. “Technology is rapidly outpacing our current manufacturing capabilities, for any manufacturing entity to remain competitive, they need to invest in the now, while looking to the future, otherwise, they will be left behind in a race that could potentially take decades to catch up in.”

According to an article on the Edwards website, the 412th Maintenance Squadron currently uses one Stratasys industrial plastic printer. The team has used the printer for part production and for fitting difficult repairs prior to manufacturing. The base also uses the printer for training purposes.

According to the article, the printers enable “maintainers to create one-off modifications of aircraft parts at reduced costs in terms of both time and materials to aid in the advancement of Edward’s unique test and evaluation mission.”

Edwards Air Force Base is using a 3D printer to help meet the demand for maintenance parts on older aircraft. Image courtesy of U.S. Air Force/Matthew Williams

Using 3D printers could save time and costs for the maintenance team, particularly in the case of highly specialized parts or older parts that may not be readily available in the supply chain. Engineers can also create new designs as well as test them on site.

“Any organization or person in the Air Force could use 3D design and printing,” said Staff Sgt. Cameron Canupp, 412th Maintenance Squadron. “Any idea, from a new type of nozzle for fire trucks to firing mechanisms on a 70-year-old gun brought over from the museum. We are only limited by size and our imagination.”

Source: Edwards Air Force Base

More Stratasys Coverage

Sponsored Content
Rapid Prototyping in The Automotive Industry
Henry Ford may not have invented the automobile, but his pioneering spirit did transform the way cars were made. His assembly line process drastically reduced costs with standardized parts and greater efficiency which led to lower cost, higher quality and...
Stratasys Unveils New J850 3D Printer and Materials
The J850 offers greater material capacity and faster printing, the company reports. 
Editor’s Picks: Oct. 3-9, 2019
One of the picks will be chosen as DE’s Editor’s Pick of the Week.
Stratasys Introduces Digital Anatomy 3D Printer
New 3D printer designed to bring realistic simulation and realism to functional anatomical models.
(Finding) the Right Stuff
Impressed with all the cool shapes you can build on a 3D printer? What’s even more cool are all the different materials you can use to make them.
Stratasys Plans Strategic Investment in Xaar 3D
Stratasys to increase ownership in Xaar 3D from 15% to 45% with option to fully acquire.
Stratasys Company Profile

Share This Article

About the Author

Brian Albright's avatar
Brian Albright

Brian Albright is the editorial director of Digital Engineering. Contact him at de-editors@digitaleng.news.

Follow DE