PORTLAND AIR GUARD STATION, Ore. - Tucked away on base is the unassuming metals technology shop. The exterior gives no clue to the mission-critical work performed behind those walls.
Metals technology Airmen produce parts and tools for different units around their respective bases. Whether for aircraft or aerospace ground equipment, ammo or other maintenance back shops, metals tech supports their missions by creating what’s needed to keep the 142nd Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, flying effectively and efficiently.
One of the primary benefits of the shop is the ability to fabricate parts much faster than it would take to order and receive them from a manufacturer, enabling maintenance Airmen to get aircraft back in commission more quickly.
“We have the ability as a unit to say, ‘Hey stop what you are doing. We need to have this part made,’ and then have that part made in hours or even minutes,” said Staff Sgt. Nathan Carssow, an aircraft metals technology craftsman with the 142nd Maintenance Squadron.
Another benefit of metal fabrication is creating no longer manufactured parts. The unit recently fabricated an aluminum stringer for an F-15C Eagle tail cone, saving the wing money and reducing the aircraft’s repair time.
In fiscal year 2023, the metals tech shop helped generate $1.2 million in Air Force Repair Enhancement Program funds, enhancing self-sufficiency across the Air Force.
With the impact the metals tech shop has on the wing’s readiness, metals technology Airmen understand the importance of their work.
“In the more intricate parts of our job, if an aircraft is in need of something, like the bushings, it’s not going to fly until our shop finishes the project,” said Tech. Sgt. Nate Brown, a 142nd Maintenance Squadron metals technology craftsman.
The metals tech shop can create aircraft-grade parts and tools using manual lathes, computer numerical control mills, 3D printers, welding and other tools.
It also performs the common task of removing stuck screws from jets. Brown says this is relatively easy but crucial to keeping airframes flying.