Dover AFB Airman improves drill bit case, increases efficiency

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cydney Lee
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Dover Air Force Base’s Bedrock Innovation Lab inspires a culture of innovation and empowerment at the unit level to implement solutions to the military’s problems. A Bedrock intern did just that recently by creating a new 3D-printed drill bit case for Airmen to use while performing maintenance on aircraft. 

The idea originated from a maintenance Airman who raised concerns about the previous drill bit case being discontinued and needing more due to wear and tear. Tech. Sgt. Christopher Saunders, 736th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron home station check dock chief and Bedrock intern at the time, began developing a solution.

 “We got together and hashed out what our likes were and our dislikes about the existing case versus what we'd like to see in the new case,” said Saunders.

Saunders created prototype after prototype of the case, tweaking a different aspect or adding another feature to improve each version. 

“The biggest challenge was the design,” said Saunders. “It's frustrating having to continuously re-measure the same thing over and over to make sure it's correct.”

Finally, on the 11th prototype, the new and improved drill bit case was complete. The case included extra storage compartments for bits, embedded magnets and stronger materials. These new features increased efficiency and durability and will, over time, decrease cost. 

 “[The case] is great, especially while working on the [metal] stands. The case sticks to the stand so that if you’re changing a window, you don’t have to worry about where your bit case is going,” said Saunders. “It’ll stick to anything magnetic which has been really helpful in keeping track of tools. Since implementation, we haven’t had a single lost bit.”

Avoiding lost tools helps mitigate foreign object debris. Mitigating FOD ensures our aircraft remain mission capable and aren’t damaged by any loose objects. 

As a result of his internship at Bedrock, Saunders believes he has become more innovatively focused. 

 “I feel like a spokesperson now for innovation,” said Saunders. “Whether it's providing [Airmen] with new tools or increasing their mindset, I'm trying to look at it from a different perspective.”

Cultivating this innovative mindset is exactly what Bedrock is about. 

“[Bedrock] helps take that coffee table napkin scratch idea to a fully functioning prototype or device to be used in their workspaces,” said Maj. Mark Rosenthal, 436th Airlift Wing chief innovation officer. “What Bedrock does for the Air Force is get people in that mindset that you can think of different ways to do your job or to do tasks. The only constant is change and once [we] start embracing that, we'll be better off in the end.”