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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Planning to buy a 3D printer? These are 7 details you should pay attention to

From 3dprint.com:

I remember when I was planning my first 3D printer purchase. These were endless hours of browsing phrases like “3D printer choice criteria” or “the most important 3D printer details/parts”.Almost every article’s main point was “it depends on what do you want your 3D printer to be used for”.And this is obviously true. Of course, I know that this is not what you are looking for, so in this article I would like to introduce you to a list of the seven most-important features of 3D printers which you need to look at before buying a new one of your own.

  1. Build volume

This is usually the first parameter given by 3D printer manufacturers. It determines the maximum size your printed element can be. It involves three numbers. The first two are the length and width of your printing, and the third is height. So, at the beginning you should think about the biggest thing that you might want to 3D print with your device, and reject all the 3D printers whose build volume is too small. You should also pay attention to the units used. Some manufacturers use inches, others use millimetres or inches, so be careful.

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Report explores 3D printing’s hidden costs

The perception and promise of 3D printing are that it provides a simple, fast and automated digital workflow, a process where complexity is free. That perception is generally accurate up to the point that parts are removed from the 3D printer. But, as soon as parts enter the post-processing phase, the automated, push-button process becomes a manual operation that has a tangible and significant impact on a company’s bottom line.

Commissioned by 3D printer manufacturer Rize, the report summarizes the post-processing experiences six of global manufacturers representing the automotive, consumer products, medical devices, sporting goods and architecture industries. “3D PRINTING: THE IMPACT OF POST-PROCESSING”  uses the company’s experiences to paint a clear picture of the impact of post-processing requirements in terms of time, cost, quality staffing, facilities and operations, and what eliminating post-processing would mean for their companies.

Read the report