Lockheed Martin, a leading aerospace, arms, and defence manufacturer, revealed the completion of a 3D printed F-35 FMS cockpit. The team has already begun manufacturing of these Full Mission Simulator (FMS) cockpits, with deliveries beginning in October 2022. The following delivery contract includes 26 FMS products, 14 of which are 3D printed cockpits.
After years of effort, the team recently celebrated the delivery of the first two 3D printed cockpits to MCAS Cherry Point in 2022.
3D Printed F-35 FMS Cockpit
3D printing a cockpit is a complex process carried out at the Rotary and Mission Systems facility in Orlando, Florida. The entire process takes about two months, but the print can be seen in less than a minute in the time-lapse video below.
A key tenet of Digital Transformation is the 3D printed cockpit. When the team began this initiative, they had to thoroughly redesign this extremely complex part with a focus on manufacturability so that the benefits could be realised across the product lifecycle – quality, cost, and schedule. This technology is now being used on other platforms and will eventually become the standard for training devices.
“It’s a good representation of the capability of additive manufacturing and what the team can do when all of the functions work together. It also paves the way for any future large additive programs. With F-35 and F-16, we have a good baseline for what our capabilities are, and now we are diving deep into understanding how we can eliminate defects, streamline processes and increase efficiency.”– Jared Stewart, Hardware Engineer Staff, Lockheed Martin
Furthermore, the team used digital twin technology to visualise the production floor and determine where the 3D printed cockpits could be inserted along the line. Because the time required to produce the physical cockpit has decreased, advanced planning is required to manage the flow of orders and deliver on time for customers.
This effort has the potential to cut the total lead time for obtaining conventional parts by 75%. It also cuts the total number of conventional metal parts by 70%. This significantly simplifies the FMS’s manufacture and allows the team to rapidly increase the speed with which simulators can be delivered to the warfighter.
According to Michael Scheidker, Senior Hardware Engineer, “It’s great being part of a team that helps to get these resources out to the military and improving the overall cost and turnaround times for producibility. Now we will focus on leaning out the process, increasing the throughput and making it more efficient.”
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