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US Airforce launches additive manufacturing in supply chain initiative

US Airforce and America Makes to 3D out-of-production parts

The US Airforce has launched research into 3D printing replacement parts for old planes using the Figure 4 3D Printing Platform designed by 3D Systems.

The initiative includes industry leaders within additive manufacturing and aerospace, including 3D Systems, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, and Northrop Grumman.

The project, which has reached its third stage, will be overseen by America Makes and led by the University of Dayton Research.

The Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-cost Sustainment (MAMLS) programme has been funded by the Air Force Laboratory.


The US Airforce will examine how Figure 4 3D Printing Platform can reproduce components for aircrafts that are no longer in production.

The replacement parts can be built much faster and in smaller batches through additive manufacturing, as no minimum order quantity will be required.

This will reduce the time of aircrafts spend on the ground, as well as manufacturing no longer requiring parts warehousing.

The US Airforce often requires out-of-production parts due to manufacturing obsolescence, poor documentation, and costs-to-create, America Makes claims.