Printed headline: New Solutions in 3D Printing
1. Metal Parts in the Sky and in Orbit
Specifications: Arconic has been increasingly putting its metals-based additive technology capabilities to use to produce aerospace components for customers, including Airbus and Lockheed Martin. Arconic recently entered into a cooperative research agreement with Airbus to produce and qualify large-scale 3D-printed airframe components up to 1 m (3.3 ft.) in length such as pylon spars and rib structures. In addition, Arconic signed three other deals with Airbus for 3D-printed titanium and nickel components such as a titanium bracket that was just installed on a series production Airbus A350 XWB—the first 3D-printed titanium part installed on a series production Airbus aircraft. In addition to components for aircraft, Arconic’s metal 3D-printed parts have also orbited the Earth on NASA’s Orion spacecraft.
2. Inventing and Innovating 3D Printing
Company: 3D Systems
Specifications: In operation since 1983, 3D Systems was co-founded by Charles Hull, the inventor of 3D printing. In addition to printing 3D aerospace parts such as microvanes for Metro Aerospace and a radio frequency filter for Airbus Defense and Space, 3D Systems’ QuickCast stereolithography (SLA) technology is used by aerospace customers to create tools. Northrop Grumman used QuickCast to create its aircraft repair kit, which allows technicians to modify aircraft in the field using minimal labor. 3D Systems recently introduced DuraForm ProX FR1200, a new nylon material meeting requirements for flame retardancy, smoke density and toxicity. The company also recently worked with Emirates to manufacture video monitor shrouds using its Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technique, which allows more than one component to be printed at a time.
3. Incorporating 3D into Aircraft Cabins
Specifications: Emirates has recently ventured into 3D printing of components for aircraft cabins, including aircraft cabin air vent grills printed with France-based UUDS and new video monitor shrouds printed using 3D Systems’ SLS technique. Using SLS, the shrouds can be 9-13% lighter than components manufactured traditionally or using fused deposition modeling (FDM). The shrouds have undergone structural, durability, flammability and chemical tests and are in the process of receiving European Aviation Safety Agency certification. Once certified, they will be installed on select aircraft in the Emirates fleet and tracked over the following months to observe their durability. Emirates says 3D printing has the potential to increase efficiency and productivity, since the airline will be able to print components on demand. Emirates plans to continue pursuing opportunities for 3D printing components across its operations.
4. Largest Aerospace Additive Facility in the UK
Company: FDM Digital Solutions
Specifications: UK-based FDM Digital Solutions prints approximately 20,000 aerospace parts per year in addition to providing tooling solutions, consulting and training, which the company says makes it the largest aerospace additive manufacturing facility in the country. As the first facility in the UK to offer printing services on the new HP Jet Fusion 3D printer, the company focuses on printing components with Ultem 9085 thermoplastic. Notable projects include the Airbus A330neo Demo Box for Airbus, which was the largest single 3D-printed model ever commissioned by Airbus UK. FDM Digital Solution’s continued growth will include relocation to larger facilities in Burnley by second-quarter 2018, which the company says will allow increased machine capacity and expansion of its training and consultancy services.
5. 3D CAD Model Designs
Company: Consilio3D Technologies
Specifications: Consilio3D Technologies serves companies looking to explore 3D printing by providing the necessary data for original or reverse-engineered components in 3D computer-aided design (CAD) model format. The company creates these 3D CAD models, which are necessary for ensuring that 3D-printed parts meet the specifications of the original design in a number of ways. For reverse-engineered parts, Consilio3D Technologies scans the part using various methods depending on a number of factors and converts the data into a 3D CAD model. The company can also convert 2D CAD models to 3D, create 3D CAD models from original drawings or design original 3D CAD models. Consilio3D Technologies says that in addition to helping make parts more quickly on demand, their work in facilitating 3D printing allows parts to be modified to increase longevity.
6. New Concept for 3D Printing Innovations
Company: Bionic Production AG
Specifications: Based in Germany, Bionic Production AG is looking to innovate the additive manufacturing industry with its new Bionic Smart Factory (BSF) concept for complex 3D printing. Bionic Production AG says the BSF concept will enable new, more economical production by combining 3D printing, bionic optimization and digitalization along the process chain. The BSF, which is expanding to a new location in Luneburg, Germany, in early 2018, will be both a production site equipped with around 20 3D printers and a base for research and development projects conducted jointly with Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH. The company says the BSF campus will welcome collaborations from innovative 3D printing startups looking to establish offices at the location. Initially, the BSF will employ around 30 staff members with plans for up to 100 employees after the expansion.
7. Simplifying 3D Parts Certification
Specifications: In business since 1988, Stratasys has worked within aerospace to provide 3D printing for parts and tooling solutions for customers such as Airbus, Boeing and Eviation Aircraft. Most recently, the company is focusing on its new Aircraft Interiors Certification (AIC) project, which was introduced in July 2017. Stratasys says AIC is a new way to help aircraft manufacturers have their 3D-printed interior parts certified faster and at a lower cost, making it a low-risk and cost-effective way to transition additive manufacturing into production. AIC includes all of the elements to meet a customer’s certification requirements, from certified printing material to process documentation and guidance. Stratasys says a large number of aircraft interior OEMs are actively participating in AIC, and they are working with them to finalize best candidate parts and validate real-world business cases.
8. Supplying Printers and Materials
Specifications: Founded in 2011, Ultimaker manufactures 3D printers for aerospace and other industries. Its printers, including the newest version of its Ultimaker 3 that was rolled out in 2016, are sold in more than 100 countries. The company recently released a new feature called Cura Connect on its 3D printing software package, which provides functionality such as selecting and grouping printers, strategically scheduling maintenance operations and notifying users when a printer needs attention. Most recently, Ultimaker introduced a new support material for multi-extrusion 3D printing called Ultimaker Breakaway. The material allows users to simply print and break away support materials, eliminating the need for sanding or waiting for the materials to dissolve.