The team of RMIT researchers led by Professor Milan Brandt are using ‘laser metal deposition’ technology to build and repair steel and titanium parts for defence force aircraft in collaboration with RUAG Australia and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).
It works by feeding metal powder into a laser beam, which is scanned across a surface to add new material in a precise, web-like formation.
It can be used to 3D print parts from scratch or to fix existing parts with a bond that is as strong as the original.
The technology will apply to existing legacy aircraft as well as the new F35 fleet.
The move to locally printed components is expected to save money on maintenance and spare part purchasing, scrap metal management, warehousing and shipping costs.
The two-year project is the latest in a series of collaborations over the past decade between RUAG Australia and Brandt.