How much can a toilet-seat cover cost? If you're the Air Force, $10,000. The Washington Post reports on that eye-popping amount and the technological advances that have now dropped the price-point to an easier-to-swallow level. Three covers, "required to protect the aircraft from corrosion damage in the latrine area," per the Air Force, needed to be replaced on some of the 52 C-5 Galaxy planes it still has in operation. Except Lockheed Martin, which made the Vietnam-era military cargo plane up until 2001, doesn't make that part anymore, forcing the government to opt for a custom order (see an image of the cover here).
The Air Force confirmed it paid that amount for the cover three times, most recently in 2017, but says it will never do so again. That's thanks to 3-D printing, which can now create the part for $300. ABC News reports the $10,000 figure came to light in the first place thanks to a May interview in which the assistant Air Force secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics explained the benefits of 3-D printing for the Air Force using that example. The Post suggests the need for a part that's no longer made is no one-off. It reports more than two-thirds of the Air Force's budget is spent on the "sustainment" of equipment that dates to the 1950s. (Read more Air Force stories.)