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Finnish F/A-18 makes first flight with 3D-printed part

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World Aviation Defense & Security News - Patria
 
 
Finnish F/A-18 makes first flight with 3D-printed part
 
Finland's first 3D-printed aircraft engine part had its maiden flight on 5 January 2018. The part has been installed in the F/A-18 Hornet fighter. Patria has been working on the manufacturing process for 3D-printed parts over the last two years, the Finnish company said on Thursday, January 18.
     
Finnish F A 18 makes first flight with 3D printed part 640 001A Finnish Air Force F/A-18 fighter jet
(Crédit: FAF)
     
The part was designed in accordance with the MDOA approval granted to Patria and was manufactured from the Inconel 625 superalloy. MDOA approval refers to Military Design Organisation Approval in accordance with European Military Aviation Requirements (EMARs) and granted by the Finnish Military Aviation Authority (FMAA).

Patria is actively involved in exploring new methods of manufacturing and repairing various parts. "For this part, the development work has been done over the last two years, with the aim of exploring the manufacturing process for 3D-printable parts, from drawing board to practical application. Using 3D printing to make parts enables a faster process from customer need to finished product, as well as the creation of newer, better structures. We will continue research on additive manufacturing methods, with the aim of making the new technology more efficient," says Ville Ahonen, Vice President, Patria's Aviation business unit.

Patria was also in charge of performing the MLU 2 upgrade on all of the Air Force’s 62 F/A-18 Hornet fighters in 2012–2016. The MLU 2 upgrade included hardware and system installations and changes required by air-to-ground weaponry.

The Finnish Ministry of Defence is currently pursuing the HX Fighter Programme, which will replace the fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Hornet with a new fighter aircraft. The Hornets are scheduled to be withdrawn from service in the 2025-30 period, so that the new fighter will be fully operational by 2030.