A new metallic 3D printed part alongside the aluminum part it will replace on an F-22 Raptor. (Photo courtesy R. Nial Bradshaw and US Air Force photo).
A new metallic 3D printed part alongside the aluminum part it will replace on an F-22 Raptor. (Photo courtesy R. Nial Bradshaw and US Air Force photo).

The US Air Force says that a metallic 3D printed part has been installed on an operational F-22 Raptor.

The printed bracket will reportedly not corrode and is made using a powder bed fusion process that uses a laser to build the part layer by layer from a titanium powder. A new bracket can be ordered and delivered to the depot for installation as quickly as three days, the institution says.

The printed part replaces a corrosion-prone aluminum component in the kick panel assembly of the cockpit that is replaced 80% of the time during maintenance.

The part will be monitored while in service and inspected when the aircraft returns for maintenance. If validated, the part will be installed on all F-22 aircraft during maintenance. The Air Force says that the printed titanium bracket is only the first of many metallic additive manufactured parts planned through public-private partnerships and that there are at least five more metallic 3D printed parts planned for validation on the F-22.

This story is adapted from material from US Air Force, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.