A new metallic piece with laser beams replaced an aluminum part of an F-22 Raptor.
It’s no surprise that the U.S. Air Force is integrating 3D printing into their fleet. The F-22 Raptor stealth fighter has received its first new titanium replacement part.
he Pentagon has high hopes for greater things to come in the aircraft industry, particularly on new and sturdy pieces specially designed for old aircraft. The part replaced was relatively minor—a bracket set up in a kick panel in the compartment of the F-22- Made from aluminum, the part was made of titanium powder and utilized laser beams to build it layer per layer.
The titanium part is not prone to corrosion which means it can withstand wear and tear and could last the lifespan of the aircraft. That said, the new replacement part will be inspected over time, and if validated to last, similar pieces will be set up in all F-22S.
The part was ordered and installed by the 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, where all F-22s undergo depot-level maintenance. As an aircraft ages, its parts lose their most favorable condition and function which results in more repair and maintenance.
For planes no longer in production like the F-22, the acquisition of spare parts remains to be a difficult process. With 3D printing, these issues are easily resolved as the advanced technology enables the Air Force to quickly and accurately manufacture any relevant parts. More so, the Air Force revealed that if this 3D-printed bracket works efficiently, future orders for the part could be filled in as quickly as three days.