A V-22 Osprey is scheduled to fly with a 3D-printed part, Elizabeth McMichael, the director of innovation for Naval Air Systems Command, said at a conference on Tuesday, according to Jane’s 360. The 3-D printed part that it will use is a “titanium link and fitting,” reported Jane’s, and they are making six parts in total.
Significant regulatory and procedural hurdles remain before such new fabrications can be widely used, McMichael said. “We’re going to need a lot more focus on qualification and certification” and how that unfolds with digital manufacturing.” NAVAIR thought it would take three years to do this, but it has been half that time, according to McMichael.
The Navy has been using 3D printing and additive manufacturing for over 20 years, but certification is one of the biggest technical issues, according to McMichael.
The engine nacelle and link attachment can be printed in three days, but it takes months to certify the part. “That’s not right,” said McMichael. “If I were queen for a day, I would make the certification process weeks or days.”
NavAir doesn’t plan to start making parts but to instead develop standards for industry partners to follow. The group plans to start working with stainless steel parts later this month.
Once the parts are flying, officials can collect data and hope to inform a set of industry standards and processes. Eventually McMichael hopes the government can build models for qualification and certification, but it needs to first get standards and data.