Air Force Gives $8 Million to Find Ways to 3D Print Spare Parts

A building trend involving the US military and 3d printing is getting a $10 million investment aimed at modernizing the Air Force's supply chain.

The University of Dayton Research Institute will lead a project that also includes Case Western University and Youngstown State, to find efficient ways to keep the US Air Force supplied with spare parts in a sustainable manner, utilizing 3d printing and other advanced manufacturing techniques.

The project is being funded primarily by an $8 million grant from the Air Force Research Laboratory, as well as a $2.87 million grant from other partners.

“Maintaining its fleet in a cost-efficient manner using advanced manufacturing technologies, including additive manufacturing, is critical to the strategic readiness of the Air Force today and into the future,”John Wilczynski, America Makes’ deputy director of technology development told reporters.  

us air force 3d printing

America Makes is a national accelerator for 3d printing, made up of members from the private and public sectors and run by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining.

“Through its outlined approach combined with the diverse project team assembled and led by The University of Dayton Research Institute, a research leader in its own right, the Institute is highly optimistic that the resulting outcome will successfully address the Air Force’s sustainment needs and possibly extend beyond the Air Force to other military branches.”

This news comes nearly a week after Marine Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis told Congress that many of his aviators and technicians were having to become quite creative - including the use of 3d printers -  in order to keep their planes running properly in the face of budget cuts.

Instead of shipping parts to numerous theaters around the globe or keeping large inventories of spare parts in different warehouses, the Air Force and other military branches are aiming to create the parts they need on demand, as close as possible to the end user.

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