The U.S. Air Force’s 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron has installed a 3D-printed, titanium-based component onto an F-22 Raptor jet during depot maintenance operations at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, the USAF said Thursday. The additive manufactured bracket doesn't corrode and will replace an aluminum part in the cockpit's kick panel assembly.
Robert Lewin, director of the 574th AMXS, said that F-22 personnel has faced difficulties on the availability of additional components due to its small fleet size. The new component, built layer by layer through a laser-driven powder bed fusion procedure, can be ordered and delivered for installation within three days.
“Once we get to the more complicated parts, the result could be a 60-70 day reduction in flow time for aircraft to be here for maintenance,” Lewin noted.
The Air Force said it's partnered with industry on the additive manufacturing effort and expects to incorporate five more 3D-printed metallic parts on the F-22.