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3D printing to help US repair its F/A-18


3D printing is now used by the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), based in Iwakuni, helping with maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the F/A-18 fighter jets. MCAS Iwakuni engineers have designed two products that help reducing the time it takes to repair the fighter jets, saving costs for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).


3D printing to help US repair its FA 18 F/A-18 aircraft at LIMA in Malaysia (Picture source : Air Recognition)


The 3D printed products include an engine ship kit, designed by the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 (MALS 12), that drains plugs and clips, ensuring the plugs are not dislodged. With plugs applied, maintenance Marines are not required to travel to different locations to drain the excess oil and hydraulic fluids. This saves the MCAS Iwakuni time, cost and labour. The kit was developed using 3D drafting software and MALS 12’s new 3D printers.

The other 3D printed product is a plastic ring kit that helps Marines grease the bearing on F/A-18’s M61A Vulcan, a Gatling-style rotary cannon. The 3D printed ring has cut the cannon maintenance time to less than ten minutes. The bearing is held in place by a large ring, where a smaller ring then pushes grease into the bearing. This M16A cannon is used in lots of vehicles throughout the U.S. Armed Forces, so the 3D printed bearing packer could have a real impact across the Department of Defense.