3D printing company Renishaw has supplied a metal additive manufacturing (AM) machine to the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) to help improve its component manufacturing capabilities.

The RenAM 500Q Flex was installed at RAF Wittering Squadron in Cambridgeshire along with other 3D printing and scanning equipment at its new Hilda B Hewlett Centre for Innovation and will produce custom-built structural aircraft components for rapid repairs.

The machine features four lasers that use the whole powder bed, automated powder recycling capabilities and a compact footprint, Renishaw said.

“The new center really is the heart of RAF innovation, and introducing additive manufacturing could one day enable the RAF to create and repair vital components that will keep their planes in the sky,” said Stephen Crownshaw, AM business manager at Renishaw.

“One day the Royal Air Force could manufacture custom-built structural aircraft components for rapid aircraft repairs,” added squadron leader Allen Auchterlonie.