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Training the next generation.

A UAV replicas to train students.
For the Department of Defense, the TDF designs and builds “trainers” and “training aids” such as UAV replicas to train students.
“FDM has saved the government over $3.8 million to date with an expected 10-to-15-year savings of over $15 million.”
Mitchell Weatherly - Sheppard AFB, Chief, Trainer Development Flight
Batches of plan components produced via direct digital manufacturing.
With direct digital manufacturing, the TDF can produce batches of components.
"Major advantages to the FDM system include its speed over other processes or alternative build methods, the versatility of FDM versus injection molding, and the ability to run multiple parts simultaneously through the system,” says Weatherly. Benefits include ease of maintenance, as well as the availability to use multiple materials for a variety of purposes. “Additional capabilities include the ability to design based on function needs instead of manufacturing constraints, and the ability to implement design changes immediately and at minimal costs. The versatility to manufacture any item coupled with zero hazardous waste is one of the greatest advantages to the Air Force,” says Weatherly. “The FDM-based machines have been used for a number of trainer projects which have tight budgets. We have also utilized the FDM process for research and development for our airmen and soldiers to be able to train like we fight.” “For our first FDM machine purchase, we projected ROI in 4 years, but it took only 18 months,” Weatherly says. “For our second FDM machine purchase, we saw ROI in only 9 months. You will never get away from conventional methods and highly skilled technicians, but you can give them the proper tools and new technology that can make their job easier and competitive. I believe FDM is one of the technologically advanced premier manufacturing methods available. Since 2004, when we purchased our first of four machines, the FDM process has saved the government over $3.8 million to date with an expected 10-to-15-year savings of over $15 million.
Batches of plan components produced via direct digital manufacturing.
With direct digital manufacturing, the TDF can produce batches of components.
"Major advantages to the FDM system include its speed over other processes or alternative build methods, the versatility of FDM versus injection molding, and the ability to run multiple parts simultaneously through the system,” says Weatherly. Benefits include ease of maintenance, as well as the availability to use multiple materials for a variety of purposes. “Additional capabilities include the ability to design based on function needs instead of manufacturing constraints, and the ability to implement design changes immediately and at minimal costs. The versatility to manufacture any item coupled with zero hazardous waste is one of the greatest advantages to the Air Force,” says Weatherly. “The FDM-based machines have been used for a number of trainer projects which have tight budgets. We have also utilized the FDM process for research and development for our airmen and soldiers to be able to train like we fight.” “For our first FDM machine purchase, we projected ROI in 4 years, but it took only 18 months,” Weatherly says. “For our second FDM machine purchase, we saw ROI in only 9 months. You will never get away from conventional methods and highly skilled technicians, but you can give them the proper tools and new technology that can make their job easier and competitive. I believe FDM is one of the technologically advanced premier manufacturing methods available. Since 2004, when we purchased our first of four machines, the FDM process has saved the government over $3.8 million to date with an expected 10-to-15-year savings of over $15 million.
FDM 3D printing direct digital manufacturing has saved $800,000 and three years development time over a four-year period for Sheppard Air Force Base.
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