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AFRL, Universities Form Additive Printing Partnership for Aircraft, Spacecraft Structures

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The U.S. Air Force Laboratory’s composites branch partnered with the University of Miami, Louisiana Tech University, University of Arkansas and the University of Texas to highlight the application of 3D printed carbon fiber and epoxy components on air and spacecraft structures. AFRL also performed joint projects with international allies to craft lightweight core structures that can hold the payload through the use of composite printed materials, the Wright Patterson Air Force Base said on Friday.

The service branch noted that additive printing lowers heating cycles, manufactures complex components, eliminates the need for pressure cooker systems and facilitates on-the-spot assembly of repair parts. The process supports the integration of metal and electrical parts which can accelerate the construction of multifunctional structures for unmanned aircraft systems, the Air Force added.

“The potential to quickly print high strength composite parts and fixtures for the warfighter could be a tremendous asset both in the field and for accelerating weapon system development,” said Jeffery Baur, leader of the composite performance research team at AFRL.