NAVAIR Innovation Lab uses upgraded 3D printing equipment to develop usable items

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A team of researchers from Naval Air Systems Command’s Fleet Readiness Center East received equipment upgrades designed to boost the development of additive manufacturing capabilities to support areas such as aircraft maintenance, engineering, repair and overhaul.

NAVAIR said Friday’s Fleet Support Team Advanced Technology and Innovation team now uses chemical resistant materials, 3D printing technology capable of reaching high temperatures and printers 3D larger ones designed to make prototypes and usable items.

Among the items developed for real-world applications is a port cover for the digital engine control unit of the AV-8B Harrier’s F402 engine.

“These little aluminum lids had a delivery time of over a year. We were able to 3D print fuel-safe replacements from a chemical-resistant polymer, and the depot was able to eliminate that backlog in days, at a small fraction of the cost of sourcing aluminum covers from ‘origin’, said Randall Lewishead of the FRCE Innovation Laboratory.

The Innovation Lab also supports the deployment of 3D printed applications across the fleet. Lewis explained that these applications undergo initial prototyping and testing in the lab before NAVAIR’s Additive Manufacturing Integrated Products team helps create a technical dataset that will then be sent to Marines and Sailors.

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