Behind a lot of application development and validation in 3D printing, aka additive manufacturing (AM), is a key industry: aerospace. The aviation industry pioneered AM for production parts. Realizing benefits early on, it’s continued to further adoption of 3D printing to boost efficiency, save money and enable on-demand manufacturing.
While exterior and structural possibilities continue to be explored, the use of additive manufacturing for aircraft interiors is a primary application for the aerospace industry. From airplanes to space vehicles, AM has significantly contributed to the inner workings and cosmetic interiors of a variety of aircraft.
Leading aerospace manufacturers are migrating to AM to push the envelope of what’s possible in the world of flight. Aircraft design is evolving rapidly with a new sophistication taking over the scene. As global competition increases, it’s more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve. Additive manufacturing has proved to be a key element of maintaining a competitive edge in aircraft manufacturing.
One of the primary benefits of 3D printed parts is a reduction in weight – passing along continued operational savings during the life of the aircraft. . Components can be built in lightweight materials, with thinner walls than injection molding. Additive manufacturing easily produces complex geometries, allowing for part consolidation and design iterations that significantly reduce weight.
Free from the constraints of conventional manufacturing and tooling, engineers can design and further optimize the performance of aircraft components. Custom interiors accommodate specific airline needs and functions on similar aircrafts. For any specialized, missions specific aircraft, interiors may have critical custom needs, a perfect function for 3D printing to solve.
There is a wide range of aircraft interior applications that are utilized today, with more in development. The following details areas on an aircraft that designers and manufacturers might consider for 3D printing.
Within the functional interior of an aircraft there are significant applications to speak to including:
Additional applications possibilities comprise cosmetic parts in cabin, cockpit, galley and bay sections. These applications include:
Aircraft designers can also take advantage of 3D printing for the development of scale models and full scale mockups.
The following summarizes common additive technologies and materials utilized for 3D printed aircraft parts:
Stratasys Direct Manufacturing is excited to showcase the amazing applications of 3D printing in aerospace at the Paris Air Show June 19-23, 2017.