Saab flew a Gripen multirole fighter jet that includes a 3D-printed replacement hatch during a March 19 trial aimed to demonstrate the use of additive manufacturing technology to accelerate combat aircraft repairs.
The company said Tuesday it replicated the original hatch using a PA2200 nylon polymer and a 3D printer as part of efforts to understand how the process could help maintenance personnel fix aircraft parts that were damaged while operating in remote missions.
“Post-flight initial inspection of the hatch was very positive and showed no visual structural changes had occurred from the flight," said Hakan Stake, contract manager for Gripen C/D support at Saab.
Stake's project team plans to explore flexible materials that could serve as a substitute for PA2200 and withstand a high-altitude temperature. The group also seeks to develop a printing equipment container for deployment efforts.
Saab is a founding member of the AMEXCI consortium and works with other manufacturing companies to determine additive manufacturing applications across the technology production process.