TECH

3D-Printed Parts Used On RAF Tornado Fighter Jets Says BAE Systems

06/01/2014 10:48 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 15:53 GMT

Thought 3D-printed guns were scary? How about 3D-printed fighter jets?

BAE Systems have announced the RAF Tornado jets have been flown with parts manufactured using the technology.

The news is rather exciting as it could reduce the service's maintenance and service bill by over £1.2 million over the next four years.

tornado jet

An RAF Tornado

Working at RAF Marham, Norfolk, BAE engineers produced parts including protective covers for radios and guards for power take-off shafts.

Mike Murray, head of airframe integration at BAE Systems, said: "You are suddenly not fixed in terms of where you have to manufacture these things.

"You can manufacture the products at whatever base you want, providing you can get a machine there, which means you can also start to support other platforms such as ships and aircraft carriers.

"And if it's feasible to get machines out on the front line, it also gives improved capability where we wouldn't traditionally have any manufacturing support."

tornado jet

An engineer works on a 3D-printer

3D-printing is being hailed as the future of manufacturing. As the technology develops, costs are being reduced with off-the-shelf printers becoming commercially affordable.

There are controversies however. Guns and rifles that can fire standard bullets have already been created and the blueprints distributed online.