Air Force certifies first field unit for 3D printing of aircraft parts

The U.S. Air Force announced its first use of certified replacement aircraft parts made by a 3D industrial printer on Monday.

An aircraft latrine cover was the first aircraft part authorized for use after being produced on a 3D printer at Travis AFB Force, Calif., the Air Force announced on Monday. Photo by Louis Briscese/USAF/UPI

The 60th Maintenance Squadron at Travis AFB, Calif., is the Air Force’s first field unit with an industrial-sized 3D printer certified to produce nonstructural aircraft parts.

The Stratasys F900 3D printer is capable of printing plastic parts up to 36-by-24-by-36 inches, using Ultem 9085, a flame-retardant high-performance thermoplastic regarded as more flexible, dense and stronger than typical plastic.

The printer, certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Air Force Advanced Technology and Training Center, offers new opportunities to create needed parts while saving time and money, an Air Force statement said on Monday.

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