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3D-printed products fly RAF Tornado fighter jets news
06 January 2014

3D printed products have come out with flying colours in a series of tests carried out on RAF Tornado fighter jets that made use of parts, created with the technology.

The jets took off from BAE Systems' airfield at Warton, at the end of December with parts that included protective covers for cockpit radios and guards for power take-off shafts.

The savings from the technology towards RAF's maintenance and service costs are expected to total over 1.2 million in the next four years.

The parts are being produced by BAE engineers for four squadrons of Tornado GR4 aircraft at RAF Marham in Norfolk with some parts costing less than 100.

3D printing - which is seen to be the future of manufacturing involves building up layer upon layer of material to build complex solid objects.

3D printed guns might be formally illegal in the UK, but that had not come in the way of UK armed forces adopting the technology for military purposes.

According BAE, British Tornado fighter aircraft conducted successful test flights with parts made in 3D printers for the first time.

In addition to the reduced cost, according to BAE's head of airframe integration, Mike Murray, 3D printing would give the RAF more logistical freedom in future operations.

He added that 3D printers would allow the construction of military parts and products at "whatever base you want, providing you can get a machine there."

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3D-printed products fly RAF Tornado fighter jets