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3D Printing Can Keep Aging Air Force Aircraft Flying

Glenn House and his colleagues spent more than four years making a new toilet for the B-1 Lancer. The challenge wasn?t fitting the john into the cockpit (it went behind the front left seat), but ensuring that every part could handle life aboard a plane that can pull 5 Gs, break the sound barrier, and spend hours in wildly fluctuating temperatures. The end result didn?t just have to work. It had to work without rattling, leaking, or revealing itself to enemy radar. Getting it okayed for use aboard the bomber was just as complex as making it. ?Getting a part approved can take years,? says House, the cofounder and president of Walpole, Massachusetts-based 2Is Inc.

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Students Design $1.25 Piece to Help Prevent B-2 Stealth Bomber Emergencies

One of the world’s most advanced bombers is flying with a plastic switch cover, designed by Missouri high school students, in its cockpit to prevent possible in-flight emergencies, the Air Force says. The Stealth Panthers robotics team at Knob Noster High School near Whiteman Air Force Base worked with pilots and engineers last fall to create and test the 3D-printed prototype in a B-2 Spirit training simulator.

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3D printing applied to MRO of F/A-18 Hornet by U.S. Marines

At the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, southern Japan, 3D printing is now in use to keep F/A-18 Hornet multirole fighters airborne. MCAS Iwakuni engineers have devised two products that reduce the time it takes to repair the fighter jets, saving costs for the U.S. Department of Defense. The products help with the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the fighter jets, covering all tasks carried out to ensure the airworthiness of an flight vehicle.

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