HomeNewsArticle Display

Travis AFB produces first certified 3-D printed aircraft parts

Travis AFB is the first field-unit location in the Air Force to have the Stratays F900 3-D industrial printer certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and Air Force Advanced Technology and Training Center for use on aircraft replacement parts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese)

A Stratasys F900 3D printer prints aircraft parts, Aug. 15, 2019, Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Travis AFB is the first field-unit location in the Air Force to have the Stratasys F900 3D industrial printer certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and Air Force Advanced Technology and Training Center for use on aircraft replacement parts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese)

Travis AFB is the first field-unit location in the Air Force to have the Stratays F900 3-D industrial printer certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and Air Force Advanced Technology and Training Center for use on aircraft replacement parts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese)

Tech. Sgt. Rogelio Lopez, 60th Maintenance Squadron assistant aircraft metals technology section chief, loads Ultem 9085 material into a canister for use in the Stratasys F900 3D printer, Aug. 15, 2019, Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Travis AFB is the first field-unit location in the Air Force to have the Stratasys F900 3D industrial printer certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and Air Force Advanced Technology and Training Center for use on aircraft replacement parts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese)

Travis AFB is the first field-unit location in the Air Force to have the Stratays F900 3-D industrial printer certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and Air Force Advanced Technology and Training Center for use on aircraft replacement parts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese)

Latrine covers, the first aircraft parts authorized for use after being printed on the Stratasys F900 3D printer are on display Aug. 15, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Travis AFB is the first field-unit location in the Air Force to have the Stratasys F900 3D industrial printer certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and Air Force Advanced Technology and Training Center for use on aircraft replacement parts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) --

The 60th Maintenance Squadron is the first field unit in the Air Force to be certified with an industrial-sized 3D printer that is authorized to produce nonstructural aircraft parts.

The Stratasys F900 3D printer, which is capable of printing plastic parts up to 36-by-24-by-36 inches, uses a material called Ultem 9085 that is more flexible, dense and stronger than typical plastic.

The printer, which is 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.

“It brings us a capability that we’ve never had before,” said Master Sgt. John Higgs, 60th MXS aircraft metals technology section chief. “There’s so many possibilities available to us right now. We’re just scratching the surface.”

Technicians are able to download blueprints from an online database that the University of Dayton Research Institute has approved.

“The Joint Engineering Data Management Information Control System is where we go to download already approved blueprints,” Higgs said. “Now, the University of Dayton Research Institute is working with the engineers to get those parts they developed into JEDMICS.”

The first approved project was printed on the Stratasys F900 Aug. 12 and will replace latrine covers on the C-5M Super Galaxy. Typically, parts that don’t keep the aircraft from performing their mission don’t have as high as a priority for replacement.

“The latrine covers we just printed usually take about a year from the time they’ve been ordered to the time they’ve been delivered,” Higgs said. “We printed two of the covers in 73 hours.”

Getting the printer operational was no easy task. It took eight months to get the system fully operational.

“There were facility requirements that had to be met, and then installation and certification processes to complete,” Higgs said. “After, we needed to decide who could operate the printer, then have a UDRI instructor certify them.”

Three members from the 60th MXS were chosen to be the first technicians trained in the Air Force for the initial certification. One of them, Tech. Sgt. Rogelio Lopez, 60th MXS assistant aircraft metals technology section chief, has been with the project since its inception.

“UDRI has not trained or certified anyone else at the field level except the three of us here at Travis Air Force Base,” Lopez said. “Now that we’re signed off on our training records, we’re the only ones who can operate, maintain and print on the Stratasys F900.”

Now with parts in production, all the hard work is paying off. There’s a new sense of urgency within the organization.

“It’s exciting because the Air Force is implementing new technology at the field level,” Lopez said. “The Air Force continues to encourage Airmen to be innovative by finding new ways to streamline processes and save resources.”

And since Travis AFB is the only field unit that is currently operational, requests from outside the organization are already coming in.

“We already have a list from the Air Force level to help them print and to backfill some supplies,” Higgs said. “This will ensure other bases can replace items sooner than expected with our help.”

Ultimately, the maintenance shop wants to use the printer for more than just aircraft parts.

“We have the capability to print parts on a production scale for a lot more customers,” Higgs said. “The overall goal is to generate products for every organization to support whatever needs they may have.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
.@NellisAFB Airmen help prep an @AusAirForce C-17 Globemaster III to receive fire suppressant needed to aid in the… https://t.co/fRiXN5lNh0
RT @USSOCOM: SOF Truth III: Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced. It takes years to train operational units to the level of pr…
Comptrollers from @TeamTyndall received the Gen. Larry O. Spencer Special Acts and Services Award for assisting mor… https://t.co/TIclfKmU2B
RT @F22DemoTeam: Everyone has a history. Some have a legacy. We are excited to introduce Maj. Joshua ‘Cabo’ Gunderson, commander and pilot…
A KC-135 and three F-16s from @EdwardsAFB conduct a flyover above @levisstadium during the #NFCChampionship. Fly… https://t.co/0K7GcYO1Ia
RT @AirNatlGuard: "We can always count on the training, professionalism and drive of every Airmen at the @176thWing and the Alaska Rescue C…
RT @LukeAFB: Starting the week off with a F-16 slow-mo! ✈ #slowmomonday #aviation #jets #f16 #fighterjet #usaf #sunrise https://t.co/toXXl…
RT @AETCommand: Airmen from the 29th AMU check over the first MQ-9 Reaper to be transported through ferry flight, Jan. 8, 2020, on @Holloma
RT @DeptofDefense: The cold won’t slow down the @usairforce! The Air Force is working with the @usarmyccdc to test cold weather gear and e…
RT @USAFCENT: GROUND SUPPORT | USAF Airmen assigned to the 379th AEMS worked alongside the 746th EAS to load cargo onto & launch a C-130 at…
RT @USAFHealth: #DidYouKnow, Air Force Expeditionary Medicine brings leading-edge medicine directly into battle providing injured personnel…
As he served, let us serve. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. https://t.co/SuE0D4UAnI
RT @AirNatlGuard: "We talk about lining ourselves up with our sister services and joint efforts to make sure we accomplish our mission; the…
RT @AFResearchLab: The year is 1947. The @usairforce officially broke the sound barrier with the Bell X-1 aircraft. This incredible feat w…
RT @theF35JPO: Congratulations to the @AusAirForce for completing their #F35 training mission at @LukeAFB! 🇦🇺 ⚡ Learn more 🔗 https://t.co/2…
RT @CENTCOM: A French Rafale conducts nighttime air refueling with a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender assigned to the 380th Air Expeditionary…
RT @DeptofDefense: Jumping from a plane becomes a big step toward friendship. 301 soldiers and airmen from @USArmyReserve, @usairforce, and…
Explosive Disposal Ordnance (EOD) Airmen are often assigned to some of the most dangerous missions and perform tact… https://t.co/xYc9Ip5psn
Start this year by supporting your #Airmen in their pursuit of #resiliency. Learn about common triggers of invisibl… https://t.co/6gJSfJKvcK
RT @OHNationalGuard: The @180thFW hosted members of the Nigerian Air Force recently Officers visited the 180FW in search of #bestpractice