Three-dimensional printing is becoming more prevalent in the defense industry, as engineers explore the process to make parts for the most sophisticated U.S. weapons, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles.

But lesser-known projects have been in the works at a Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, shop that has been producing parts for Air Force aircraft for at least two years.

In February, Lt. Gen. John Cooper, deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering and force protection, asked audiences at an Air Force Association breakfast, “Can we find better ways to maintain these airplanes? Is there some new technology that can help us? Or some new repair processes?”

The 3-D printing process is one way to do that, he said.

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