There is no doubt that 3D printing is the future of the manufacturing industry, but that future may already have arrived. BAE Systems is a company working for the Royal Air Force from RAF Marham, Norfolk and has made parts for the Tornado fighter jet which were successfully used as replacements.
The company said that the metal components it printed for the fighter jets were used successfully on board the aircraft last month in a flight from its airfield at Warton, Lancashire. BAE system claims that with its engineers producing parts for the Royal Air Force, they could save them 1.2 million in maintenance and repair over the next four years. They are engineering ready-made parts for four squadrons of Tornado GR4 aircraft. These parts include covers for cockpit radios and guards for the power take-off shafts, some of which cost less than 100.
Head of airframe integration at BAE Systems, Mike Murray, says that 3D printing allows them to manufacture the parts virtually anywhere so long as they have their 3-D printer available. This ability to manufacture almost any part for any vehicle at any base gives the military a whole lot of flexibility and if this technology can be moved to the front lines, there may no longer be a need for the traditional manufacturing support.
3D printing has proven to be a real benefit in almost every industry in the past year, but there are still some controversies over its use to produce homemade weapons. Despite these drawbacks, the benefits of 3D printing have far outweighed the drawbacks and the technology is here to stay. Certain laws and control on part of the users need to be exercised and this technology can be a blessing for all mankind.