DUKE FIELD, Fla. --
The 919th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron is already finding ways to innovate in their day to day operations with 3D-printing technology. The unit will soon have even more innovative possibilities. Air Force Reserve Command recently selected the squadron to receive innovation funds for a new and improved 3D-printer.
“The U.S. Air Force is moving full speed ahead with acquiring different kinds of 3D printers,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Resseguie, a metals technology craftsman for the 919th SOMXS.
The 919th SOMXS currently uses a small, single headed 3D printer that can print tools, air duct parts, face masks and other simple items. Airmen are able to design these tools for specific tasks.
“The screws on one of the airframes kept stripping and we were spending a lot of money to get new ones,” said Tech. Sgt. David Richards, a metals technology craftsman with the 919th SOMXS. “I designed a jackpad plug removal tool that could remove the screws without stripping them, then the shop 3D-printed one and we put it to work.”
The unit will use the newly awarded innovation funds to purchase a new dual headed printer that is capable of printing multiple materials at the same time, faster and with a wider range of production capabilities.
“Printing these components is much cheaper than buying them,” said Resseguie. “For example, the latrine center wall covering in a C-5 Galaxy costs $13,900 if bought from a contractor, but $668 to print.”
3D-printing technology allows units to produce parts and tools for aircraft in-house. If the printer is properly certified units can create parts they need with no wait time for delivery.
“The Air Force having this kind of on-demand capability no matter where our people are stationed gives us a strategic advantage,” said Resseguie. “Here at Duke Field, 3D-printing helps enable our unique airframes to do their unique missions.”
There are plans in place to build a fully functional innovation lab at the 919th Special Operations Wing to help foster and implement more innovation throughout the wing.