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This project seeks to demonstrate advanced manufacturing technologies to the Air Force for developing sustainment solutions for legacy aircraft.
With an average life of 27 years, legacy aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force (AF) require critical parts that may be out of production due to manufacturing obsolescence, cost to create, low quantity requirements, poor documentation, or other issues. The Air Force needs to develop the expertise to apply additive manufacturing and other emerging advanced technologies for continued, effective maintenance and sustainment of legacy aircraft.
The goal of this project is to enhance and improve AF sustainment operations through the development, demonstration, and transition of additive manufacturing (AM) technologies by (1) developing and demonstrating advanced manufacturing technologies related to additive manufacturing that improve rapid part replacement/maintenance for legacy aircraft; (2) enabling on-demand replacement of critically damaged or obsolete components that do not meet economic requirements of conventional supply chains; (3) developing and demonstrating rapid fabrication of shop tools such as assembly aids, jigs, and fixtures for sustainment center utilization; and (4) identifying technology gaps and workforce issues that need to be solved prior to effective implementation.
The technical approach is focused on improving the supply chain through organic growth of AM and related advanced manufacturing capabilities at the ALCs and OEMs. This will involve; site visits to identify candidate demonstration projects, perform emerging technology analysis, record baseline capabilities, analyze the current supply chain, and review the results using a gate review development process. After gate approval, the project team will demonstrate the advanced manufacturing technologies to reduce these identified gaps and prepare a path for transitioning the process and results to the implementation location. The team plans to establish a reference library of successful implementations of AM for sustainment.