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British fighter jet flies using 3D printed parts

It’s estimated that 3D printing parts would help the RAF save €1.4 million.

The Tornado GR4
The Tornado GR4

A number of Tornado fighter jets have successfully flown using parts created through 3D printing technology.

The defense company, BAE Systems, told BBC News that the metal components were used in test flights from the firm’s airfield in Lancashire, England.

Engineers are producing the parts for four squadrons of Tornado GR4 aircrafts, the parts include protective covers for cockpit radios and guards for power take-off shafts.

It’s hoped that 3D printing could cut the Royal Air Force’s maintenance and service bill by over £1.2 million (€1.4 million) over the next four years, and some of the parts produced cost less than £100 (€120).

The head of airframe integration at BAE studios Mike Murray told the BBC that such technology would allow for greater flexibility and freedom.

You are suddenly not fixed in terms of where you have to manufacture these things. You can manufacture the products at whatever base you want, providing you can get a machine there, which means you can also start to support other platforms such as ships and aircraft carriers.

The uses for 3D printer has been growing in size. In recent months, the technology has been used to print working organs, footwear, and even food.

Read: The five tech trends that will help shape 2014 >

Read: Designer creates self-healing, 3D-printed running shoes >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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