NAVAIR

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast doubles down on 3D printing

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast tool designer Randy Meeker removes a part he printed on the plant’s new Fortus 900 3D printer Feb. 13. (U.S. Navy photo)

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast tool designer Randy Meeker removes a part he printed on the plant’s new Fortus 900 3D printer Feb. 13. (U.S. Navy photo)

Feb 28, 2018

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 13, 2018) Meeker removes a 3D-printed drill fixture for an F/A-18 tail brace from its support material and foundation sheet. The drill fixture will allow artisans on the FRCSE F/A-18 line to quickly and accurately line-up drill holes in the right location, saving time. (U.S. Navy photo)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 13, 2018) Meeker removes a 3D-printed drill fixture for an F/A-18 tail brace from its support material and foundation sheet. ...

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The nozzle danced nimbly about as it dispensed a molten composite mixture behind a clear glass door. Lights flickered in the back of the machine’s spacious inner chamber.

The sleek, newly installed 3D printers at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast expand on the burgeoning additive manufacturing capability of the naval aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul facility.

“This new machine is capable of printing parts that are more than twice as large as our old machine, which we’ll still use for the smaller pieces,” said FRCSE tool designer Randy Meeker.

In 2014, the facility got its first 3D printer. Since then, plant employees, engineers and supervisors have found more and more uses for its products.

“Demand for 3D-printed pieces has really taken off,” said FRCSE tool designer Randy Meeker. “In just the last 15 months, I’ve printed more than 1,000 pieces.”

Meeker has printed everything from a piece of air-duct tubing for a T-44 Pegasus trainer aircraft to a debris cover for an F414 engine that powers the F/A-18 Super Hornet. Whether for safety or performance, the new technology makes the process faster.

“Turnaround time is the major improvement,” he said. “You can print a part in a matter of hours and, if it doesn’t fit or is designed wrong, you can just fix the design and print another one.”

In front of the machines stands a table with examples of the different pieces Meeker has designed and printed. Behind each one is a story of a problem solved or process quickened.

“If you have to manually make a form block or a drill tooling or line a machine up on holes, I can print something that will make that process faster,” he said.

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120506-N-ZI635-242 PACIFIC OCEAN (May 6, 2012) An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 25 launches from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 are deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman George M. Bell/Released)

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Artisan Robert Newberry installs a landing gear harness at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla.

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1 Comment, Please review our Feedback Guidelines.


Read said

Sounds like a great investment! Way to show off the new assets.


February 28, 2018 at 11:44:37 AM EST


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