Metal 3D printing is a significant production technology for aerospace companies. In commercial aviation, aviation, UAS, general aviation, cabin, MRO, space vehicles, launch vehicles, aerostructures, aero engines, and rocket propulsion we see a very high degree of investment in industrial metal 3D printing. Along with medical, high tech and automotive, aerospace is one of four industries that is experiencing the most substantial growth in additive manufacturing. OEMs and Tier One companies are certifying parts and materials for flight. Thousands of metal 3D printed parts are currently flying on drones, general aviation aircraft, satellites and various other platforms. Metal additive manufacturing is established as a vital part of the aerospace industry’s future.
Companies have achieved improved Buy-To-Fly ratios with metal 3D printed parts used on a number of platforms. Titanium, Hastelloy, Inconel and aluminium parts have been created, and used, that show significant weight savings on the final part. In aerostructures, engines, cabin and satellites operational weight savings have been achieved.
Low volume or unique parts have flown on satellite structures, custom-made parts for general aviation jets, legacy parts created for MRO and refit as well as parts for jet upgrades. For many parts, metal 3D printing merely is faster and more cost-effective.
Reducing overall part count by part-integration through 3D printing has not gotten much of the attention as some of the other possibilities of the technology. This, however, has consequential impacts on manufacturing risk, weight, amount of spare parts and associated tooling, assembly and interactions between materials over time. We see aero engine, commercial aviation and space flight companies reduce complex assemblies from 90 parts to 3. Fuel nozzles are already being 3D printed.
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Generally speaking, with 3D printing it is faster to alter and then re-print the design than it would be with most other technologies. Designers, engineers and R&D departments can now make many more iterations of their parts. Different versions of parts can now be tested and compared.
Repeatedly metal 3D printing has been used to reduce the costs of developing new aerospace parts while also reducing the time it takes to develop and make these parts. Especially in rocket and aviation engine development 3D printing has taken on making certified, high tolerance parts in these demanding applications while reducing costs.
The MetalFAB1 is designed for industrial manufacturing in demanding markets which require compliance with regulatory standards like AS9000 for aeronautical applications. Do you have a question about how our system can help with the 3D printing in the aerospace industry? Please don't hesitate to contact us, we will be in touch with you shortly.