Photo Gallery

JUST DO IT . . . YOURSELF</br>Implementing 3-D Printing in a Deployed Environment

With increased budget cuts and an aging aircraft fleet, the Air Force is looking for innovative ways to reduce the procurement, transportation, and inventory costs of tools, parts, and supplies. In particular, traditional manufacturing, accounting for inventory, and transporting aircraft parts and supplies can be slow, costly, hazardous to personnel, and dangerous for the environment. The new manufacturing technology called “3-D printing,” also known as “Additive Manufacturing” (AM) has been recommended as a possible solution to reduce repair time, costs of procurement, transportation, and inventory costs, while also being safer, less labor intensive, and more environmentally sound than traditional, manufactured replacement parts. The problem and solution methodology is used to examine the extent to which AM could benefit the Air Force. Also being examined is its current implementation. This paper provides an overview of the costs, operational failures, and environmental impact of the Air Force’s current supply chain, and how AM is being utilized by military units to help reduce these problems. While steps are being made to implement three-dimensional (3-D) printing at the base and depot levels, the Air Force has not provided clear direction for its implementation or adequately capitalized on its benefits. Consequently, this paper recommends the Air Force develop deployable 3-D printing packages, provide 3-D printing training, and provide more guidance on the circumstances under which 3-D printers should be purchased. Additionally, recommendations are made for what parts should be printed, and a formal approval process for certifying 3-D printed aircraft parts is established.

PHOTO BY: Leslie Fair
VIRIN: 190430-F-QR584-001.JPG
Additional Details

No camera details available.


Read More

This photograph is considered public domain and has been cleared for release. If you would like to republish please give the photographer appropriate credit. Further, any commercial or non-commercial use of this photograph or any other DoD image must be made in compliance with guidance found at, which pertains to intellectual property restrictions (e.g., copyright and trademark, including the use of official emblems, insignia, names and slogans), warnings regarding use of images of identifiable personnel, appearance of endorsement, and related matters.