3D Printing/ Additive Manufacturing

How AM Helps Northrop Grumman Build The New B-21 Raider

3D Printing Media Network
January 4, 2023
Download PDF
Photo by U.S. Air Force

Photo by U.S. Air Force


After seven years of development, Northrop Grumman revealed the new B-21 Raider, a "digital bomber" engineered to thwart modern defense systems and deliver long-range payloads. Northrop Grumman Fellow for Additive Manufacturing Eric Barnes said the company is utilizing five different additive manufacturing materials in its products.

Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Air Force unveiled the B-21 Raider to the world. A marvel of advanced digital manufacturing technologies across the entire spectrum, the B-21 joins the nuclear triad as a visible and flexible deterrent designed for the U.S. Air Force to meet its most complex missions. It is no secret that Northrop Grumman has put additive manufacturing at the top of its list of key enabling technologies. It is at the heart of the company’s advanced manufacturing strategy and its investments in the AM field have continued to grow, topping $70 million just for parts acquired from external suppliers.

To be clear, Northrop Grumman’s use of 3D printing dates back to long before this program and the relative scale-up of AM adoption. In fact, the company was among the very first to implement AM for rapid prototyping shortly after the technology was invented. Boris Fritz, who headed the Rapid Prototyping Lab at Northrop Grumman for 17 years, started it in 1991 and worked on the first major application with Ed Hobart: a high lift wing wind tunnel model, produced using stereolithography, which reduced the cost from $450,000 down to $12,000 (and got them the first of four world excellence awards in the early AMUG shows).

Read more here.

3D Printing Media Network
3D Printing Media Network

Published by 3dpbm, 3D Printing Media Network is a trusted independent resource for additive manufacturing industry news, information and market insights. Our editors have nearly two decades of combined experience covering the additive manufacturing industry and are familiar with all major companies, technologies, materials and applications. We believe that additive manufacturing—in its many forms—is the future of all production and represents the clearest path toward a more sustainable future.

Become a Member