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Russian Aviation Factory Purchases 3D Printer From China To Upgrade Fighter Jets

Dec 28, 2019

Russia ’s United Aviation Manufacturing Group published a post on the Russian website zen.yandex on the 19th, stating that in the annual competition of the production system improvement project held by the group in 2019, Nizhny Novgorod Sokol Aviation Plant (part of MiG) Bureau chief design engineer Alexei Liankin won two awards: "Design, Structural Support, Flight Testing" and "Quick Results." It is understood that Sokol Aviation Factory used a non-standard but effective method to repair and modernize the aircraft by printing parts with a 3D printer.

3D Printer Upgrades Fighter

Previously, the aviation factory found a problem during the maintenance and modernization of the MiG-31 interceptor: newly produced parts did not always meet the required parameters, and there was no gap between them and adjacent structures. That is, it cannot be attached to the surface and does not coincide with the mounting hole. It was later discovered that although the parts were produced in accordance with the mass production drawings of the aircraft, the aircraft produced by Sokol Aviation Factory did not completely match the parameters of the drawings, and errors may have occurred during the initial assembly.

Moreover, the MiG-31 fighter has been in service for more than 30 years and has undergone multiple repairs, and it is not only the Sokol Aviation Plant that is responsible for the repair, but also other aviation maintenance plants. The results of each repair are not always accurately documented.


"It turns out that we have spent time and money developing and producing parts, but we haven't been able to install them," said Alexei Lenkin, chief design engineer at the Sokol Aviation Plant Design Bureau. During the maintenance and modernization of the G-31, about one-fifth was newly designed by Russia's United Aviation Manufacturing Group and the parts produced at the Sokol Aviation Plant needed to be reworked.

However, it is very expensive to measure, deploy and reproduce each part individually, and the first part alone pays a high price. It took an average of 340 hours from the release of the design task to the detection of "problems", and the cost was very high. The average production cost of the first batch of parts, including the detection of structural errors after production was completed, was between 2000 and 78500 rubles. And some parts need to be reworked twice or even three times.

In this case, Lianyin started looking for a way to detect problems at the design stage. To this end, he thought of 3D printers, because prototypes of future products could be printed on 3D printers before completing the document design.

3D Printer Upgrades Fighter Jet

Lienkin's project sparked heated discussions in a competition held by United Aviation Manufacturing Group of Russia. Colleagues from other companies asked him: "Are you buying an off-the-shelf printer or buying individual parts to assemble it?" Lienkin replied: "We It's a part I bought. "" Where did I buy it? "" From China. "" Can you tell me where to buy in China? "Lian Jin said with a smile," You can buy it on the website. " Enthusiastic applause.

Lian Jin said, "Now, the designer himself tests the parts with the help of the workshop staff. This is convenient because if the discrepancy is found during the inspection of the printed prototype, the designer himself will immediately see it. Design The engineer can immediately measure deviations and decide how they need to be modified. "

After the 3D design of the part is introduced, before the design document is completed, the 3D prototype printing and trial installation of the product can be performed. Different from the previous process, the new cycle does not require production, and only includes 4 stages instead of 10 stages, and the time it takes is only 1/11 of the original, totaling 29 hours.

Russia Fighter

Initially, the goal of the aerospace plant was to reduce the cost of error correction to 1/11, but now the results prove that the cost is only 1/75 of the original, and the effect of using 3D printing greatly exceeds the expectations of the R & D staff. It is understood that before the introduction of 3D printing, the average cost of producing parts exceeded 22,000 roubles. Aircraft personnel originally hoped to reduce the cost to 2,000 roubles after the introduction of 3D printing, but now only 300 roubles. That said, the cost of finding and correcting errors during the design process is now reduced by 98.7% due to the use of 3D prototyping.