FDM Direct Digital Manufacturing Saves $800,000 and Three Years Development Time Over a Four-Year Period

Based at Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas, the Trainer Development Flight (TDF) is a facility that designs, develops, and manufactures trainers and training aids for the Air Force and all branches of the Department of Defense (DoD) as required. These items are used in numerous training environments, including avionics, weapons and fuel systems, medical readiness, HVAC, and telecommunications systems.

The trainers and training aids may be either original products or replicas of existing ones, depending on the training need. Some devices are not required to be working units, so it usually isn’t cost-efficient to purchase the actual item. For most training applications, it’s more economical to train students on replicas, instead of the often extremely expensive equipment.


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For the Department of Defense, the TDF designs and builds “trainers” and “training aids” such as 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