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3D Scanning, 3D Printing and the New Production Imperative in Military and Defense Applications
The military and defense sectors are undergoing an unprecedented transformation as military bases around the world adopt 3D scanning and additive manufacturing technologies for a wide range of applications. That includes maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) processes, damage assessments and reverse engineering of parts, to name a few.
This transformation is helping military and defense organizations drastically reduce their reliance on bogged-down supply chains and a tight labor market—all while maximizing efficiency and reducing costs.
The Travis Air Force Base in California, for example, uses Creaform’s HandySCAN 700, now known as the HandySCAN 700™|Elite, along with two additive manufacturing units, to scan components right on shop floors and then 3D print polymer and metal replacement parts.
Interviewed by Airman Magazine, Josua Orr, an aircraft mechanic for the 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, explains how these new solutions have saved the team lots of manpower hours and production costs compared with traditional methods. The team is also more efficient in carrying out damage inspections with the 3D scanner to save time and reduce human error, compared with conventional tape measures and pit depth gauges.
Tim Osborn, Ph.D., Group Leader of Additive Manufacturing technology Development at the University of Dayton Research Institute, is pushing the technology envelope further with 3D scanning and 3D printing through the Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-Cost Sustainment (MAMLS), an America Makes initiative.
His teams use HandySCAN 3D to scan aging aircraft components for just-in-time inventory management. The 3D scans are imported into SolidWorks to enable the production of highly accurate 3D CAD models, which can then be sent to 3D printers for immediate production within a few hours. This attests to the tremendous value 3D scanning brings for reshoring production and improving manufacturing agility.
AirCorps Aviation, situated in Bemidji, Minnesota, offers end-to-end restoration, contract manufacturing, and FAA-certified repair services. The company decided to broaden its capabilities to include 3D scanners and additive manufacturing for its aerospace customers.
The business acquired Creaform technology to scan various aircraft components. The team can create fabrication-ready CAD models directly from the scan data using the scanner’s SCAN-to-CAD functionalities. The company also uses the 3D scanners to conduct inspections for as-built conditions and engineering design data.
Are you aiming to implement 3D scanning within your workflows for military and defense aircraft? Contact our experts today for an exclusive demo.