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“3D printing these parts delivered an immediate weight savings benefit. Additionally, the lower part count translated into cost savings on the administrative side including inspection, purchasing, and product support.

“Subsequent change incorporation is also much faster and less expensive given that there are no permanent tooling expenses, or tools to be maintained or modified.”


– Dinesh Sharma, Bell Helicopter Textron Inc.

Why Aerospace Companies Use Additive Manufacturing

a passenger jet airplane takes offAerospace companies were some of the first to adopt 3D printing, and they continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible with additive manufacturing.

With the need to produce lightweight, complex parts, aerospace companies have taken advantage of 3D printing for cost savings and fast production.

AM’s Benefits

Additive manufacturing builds direct from CAD data and can eliminate the need for tooling, jigs, and assembly fixtures.

When compared to complex CNC machining and long lead time investment casting, 3D printing can rapidly deliver and significantly simplify intricate parts through part consolidation, allowing multiple subassemblies to be combined into a single component.

It offers one of the most instrumental solutions for weight reduction and simplifies inventory management – all major benefits for aircraft manufacturers.

Wide Adoption

a technician inspects the overhead compartments of a commercial jet aircraftFrom giants like Boeing, Airbus, GE Aviation and NASA, the advancements of 3D printing on a production scale have been verified by the aerospace community before trickling down throughout other industries.

Aerospace trends continue to be a driving force behind wide adoption of 3D printed production.

Quality Assurance

Having developed some of the most stringent industry performance standards involving material specifications and manufacturing process control documents, we’re ready to validate and certify components that meet your unique requirements.

We offer a dedicated aerospace engineering team, high-performance materials developed for aerospace environments, and AS9100 certified quality systems to ensure safe and strong aerospace parts. Your flight-qualified parts will be delivered on time and to spec every time.

Need some help getting started? Talk to our tenured team of
experts ready to help you every step of the way.

Contact an Engineer

Technologies & Materials

a fighter jet prepares to take off at sunsetAt Stratasys Direct we offer the largest capacity of 3D printing technologies to serve a variety of application needs.

Laser Sintering (LS)

LS uses powdered Nylon 11 and Nylon 12 materials, some of which are certified to FAR 25.853 and 29.853 standards for flame, smoke, and toxicity.

Parts produced by LS are lightweight, strong and extremely effective in fulfilling a variety of production applications.

FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)

FDM builds durable, accurate parts with thermoplastic materials such as ULTEM™ 9085 resin and ULTEM™ 1010 resin, both certified to UL-94V0, FAR 25.853 and FAR 29.853 standards, as well as OSU Radiant Panel Heat Release criteria.

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

a passenger jet plane flies high above the cloudsDMLS creates complex geometries and fine features not possible with any other metal manufacturing process.

With metals like aluminum, titanium, nickel alloy, cobalt chrome and other super alloys, DMLS is ideal for aerospace components as well as tough functional prototypes.

Urethane Casting

With advanced materials, including some certified to UL-94V0 and FAR 25.853, Urethane Casting can produce short runs of production parts like high-end custom interiors and enclosures.

Stereolithography (SL) & Investment Casting Patterns

For large and complex metal parts, Stereolithography delivers superb investment casting patterns.

We have critical knowledge derived from decades working with the aerospace industry to maximize your resources and provide AS9100 and ISO 9001-certified manufacturing facilities to ensure consistent, high quality components, capable of achieving FAA certification.

Applications

aerospace 3d printing infographicImprove product efficiency and flight performance while simplifying inventory with strong, lightweight components 3D printed on-demand.

Our team of experts have worked for decades alongside aerospace engineers to build flight-ready parts, both on the interior and exteriors of aircrafts.

Common Applications

Internal:

  • Air filter boxes
  • Bezels
  • Brackets
  • Custom cosmetic interior components
  • Display shrouds
  • Environmental control system ducting
  • Fuel tanks
  • Housings and enclosures
  • Oil tanks
  • Clips & clamps
  • Knobs & buttons
  • Windshield defogger duct nozzles

External:

  • Battery compartments
  • Camera mount and gimbal
  • Clips & clamps
  • Component connectors
  • Electrical housings
  • Payload enclosures
  • Plenums
  • Shrouds and closeouts
  • FOD covers
  • Propulsion components
  • Rocket motors
  • Fuel injectors
  • Thrusters
  • Combustion chambers

Aerospace 3D Printing Resources

bell helicopter

Developing Flight-Ready Parts

Bell Helicopter reaps rewards from utilizing LS for ECS components.

Bell needed helicopter parts quickly and with a repeatable processes at a competitive cost with conventional manufacturing. Stratasys Direct finds the answer.

Read Case Study
additive manufacturing in aerospace infographic

AM in Aerospace Infographic

Check out an overview of AM in aerospace including benefits and common applications.

Check out an overview of AM in aerospace including benefits and common applications.

See the Infographic
area-i

737 Scale Model Uses LS to Fly

Area-I uses LS to yield inexpensive flight research for commercial aircraft and NASA.

Area-I uses LS to yield inexpensive flight research for commercial aircraft and NASA.

Read Case Study
3d printing aircraft interiors

3D Printing Aircraft Interiors

Aerospace companies have discovered dozens of ways to reap the benefits of AM in their aircraft interiors.

Aerospace companies have discovered dozens of ways to reap the benefits of AM in their aircraft interiors.

Read the Article

Frequently Asked Questions

an engineer inspects a jet engine turbineWhat 3D CAD file formats do you accept?

Stratasys Direct Manufacturing accepts a wide variety of 3D CAD file formats. You don’t need to convert your CAD data to STL to receive a quote.

Files accepted include STL, STEP, IGES, Pro/E, CATIA, Parasolid, SolidEdge, SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor, Unigraphics as well as files from other popular 3D CAD programs.

What aerospace quality certifications does Stratasys Direct Manufacturing hold?

Stratasys Direct Manufacturing is ITAR registered and carries both ISO 9001 and AS9100 certifications. Stratasys Direct Manufacturing can provide in-house AS-9102 FAI (First Article Inspection) services.

We are committed to Quality Assurance through delivering the best parts on the market and ensuring complete data security with every project.

Read more about Quality Assurance

a jet engine turbine and wing of a commercial passenger aircraftDo you work with countries outside of the United States?

Yes, we work with companies around the world, and we can ship to anywhere across the globe. Additional information and screening may be required at the time the order is placed.

What is the largest part size you can make using production grade materials?

Our largest LS machine has a build chamber size of 26.5” x 13.5” x 20” and our largest FDM machine has a build chamber of 36” x 24” x 36”.

Parts that exceed those dimensions can be built in sections and bonded in a variety of ways that insure stability and strength.

In addition, bonded joints can be combined with the design of dovetail, tongue and groove, or sometimes lap joints.  The performance of bonded parts is no different than if the component had been created as a single piece.

ULTEM™ is a registered trademark of SABIC or its affiliates or subsidiaries.