Mar 19, 2016 | By Andre

The military and aerospace sectors have consistently been some of the most committed industries when it comes to the wide-scale adoption of 3D printing technologies. Over the years, the bulk of this communion centered around prototyping but that’s slowly changing. And even though wide-scale military adoption of metal 3D printing is still over ten years away, application ready 3D printed parts are already making their way into military aircraft for cost and time-saving reasons.

Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, for example, has announced that it has already installed a 3D printed part ahead of its recent test launch of their Trident II D5 Missile.

In this case, the part being 3D printed is a 2.5cm wiring connecter casing and is produced using the aluminum alloy based direct laser sintering 3D printing tehnique. For those unfamiliar, this method of 3D printing involves a high powered computer guided electron beam fusing metal powder together one layer at a time.

While its purpose is simply to protect internal cables from damage or accidental disconnection, the switch to 3D printing reduces waste, time and cost compared with traditional methods of producing the part.

And after successfully making its way into missile test flights between March 14 and 16th, Lockheed Martin seems happy with the results. Eric Scherff, VP of the Fleet Ballistic Missile Program suggests that “these tests demonstrate the readiness and reliability of this crucial system that protects what matters most for the nation.”

The Trident II D5 missile, with a range of 4,000 nautical miles and currently installed on US based Ohio class and British based Vanguard class nuclear submarines, is claimed to be an important deterrent from nuclear aggression by contemporary military literature. Eric Scheff suggests that “the Trident Strategic Weapon System stands guard every minute of every day, thanks to the dedication and forward thinking of the Navy program office, the submarine crews and the industry team.”

Lockheed Martin, a company that employs roughly 126,000 people world-wide has flown 3D printed parts on planetary probes, satellites and other spacecraft for human use. And while pockets of the company’s vast range of achievements remain controversial, there is no question that they remain a leader in the deployment of additive manufacturing technology in their products.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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EL wrote at 3/23/2016 2:56:08 AM:

First you say "direct laser sintering", then you say "electron beam". Which is it?

Jerry oberhammer wrote at 3/20/2016 11:46:47 PM:

Are you telling me that 3-D printing saves time and money when the sink connecters could be stamped out of plastic I don't understand

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