Netscribes Inc. predicts the global 3D printing market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.5% to reach $8.7 billion by 2020. Its report contains 3D printing trends and the impact of 3D printing across major industries, including aerospace and defense.

Advancements in additive manufacturing (AM) technology have expanded the applications of 3D printing across various industries; however, the challenge for companies is understanding how advancements impact existing business functions. In the immediate future, 3D printing in aerospace will help build aircraft components in low volumes and reduce aircraft weight. Longer term, expect to see fully 3D printed aircraft, self-healing military vehicles, and printing on the battlefield.

Other takeaways from the report:

  • Industrial design contributes to 10% of the overall spend on 3D printing
  • Metal 3D printing is the most-preferred additive manufacturing technology
  • By the end of 2023, the average 3D printer production speed should nearly double (up 88%)
  • North America market share is expected to decline toward the end of 2023, while Asia is expected to increase

3D printing FAA-, EASA-certified aircraft interior parts

Left: The Fortus 900mc Production 3D printer is featured in Stratasys’ Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution. Right: Producing and certifying flight-qualified interior components for original manufacturers or aftermarket suppliers is simplified by the Stratasys Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution.

Stratasys’ Fortus 900mc Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution is a 3D printing solution for producing aircraft interior parts which meet stringent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification requirements.

Using a Fortus 900mc production 3D printer with specialized hardware and software designed to deliver highly repeatable mechanical properties, the solution uses ULTEM 9085 resin, which is a strong, lightweight thermoplastic meeting aerospace flame, smoke, and toxicity (FST) regulations.

This system is undergoing FAA qualification at the National Center for Advanced Materials Performance (NCAMP), part of the National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University. Stratasys will assist customers in qualifying the Fortus 900mc Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution for equivalency with the NCAMP statistical dataset.

“NIAR has been commissioned to develop the framework that would include polymer additive manufacturing under the NCAMP umbrella. And we have partnered with Stratasys to be the first material for this new process for NCAMP,” says Paul Jonas, director technology development, special programs, Wichita State University, NIAR. “The first part that you make has to be equivalent to the hundredth part, to the thousandth part, to the part you make 10 years from now in order to be good enough to be certified for the FAA.”

Using 3D printing for aircraft interior parts can:

  • Allow manufacturers to differentiate passenger experience with low-volume, unique elements tailored to end-customer styles or needs
  • Support lighter-weight components through the efficiency of additive design
  • Support supply chain efficiency in the maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) segment reducing inventory and eliminating inventory obsolescence;

Spirit AeroSystems, Norsk Titanium collaborate on commercial aerospace

An agreement between Spirit AeroSystems and Norsk Titanium identifies thousands of titanium parts currently manufactured at Spirit or by its suppliers as 3D-printing candidates. Norsk Titanium will use its proprietary plasma arc Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) technology to produce 3D-printed structural titanium components to near-net shape, reducing waste, using less energy, and potentially reducing product costs by up to 30%.

Spirit expects that at least 30% of the titanium parts it manufactures could be candidates for the RPD process.

Spirit and Norsk have been working together to develop this technology for aerospace since 2008. This commercial agreement between the two companies solidifies and extends the partnership, identifying parts that can be produced immediately using RPD.;

Renishaw collaborates on Futuralve project

A Renishaw subsidiary and a group of Spanish engineering companies, universities, and technology centers are collaborating on a project that could change the way aerospace turbines are manufactured.

Led by the aero engines and turbines manufacturer ITP, Futuralve’s objective is to create advanced material and manufacturing technologies for a new generation of high-speed aerospace turbines. The 4-year project is funded by the Spanish Government through the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI).

Renishaw’s new, lightweight, additively manufactured materials can withstand high forces at extreme temperatures. As well as providing reductions in weight and an increased resistance to high temperatures, additive manufacturing (AM) opens possibilities in design, reduces the amount of raw materials required, and cuts product development time. Renishaw will also contribute to the metrology and part verification of the aerospace parts throughout the Futuralve project using its 5-axis measurement system REVO and on-machine contact scanning system SPRINT.

Renishaw will be working with the Centre for Advanced Aerospace Technologies (CATEC) in Seville, Spain, a user of Renishaw’s metal powder bed fusion additive manufacturing machines, to develop machine parameters for nickel-based alloys, study the mechanical properties of the material, and optimize the AM processes.

A project subtask is to analyze turbine components manufactured by conventional processes, such as machining, and their adaptation for manufacturing by laser-based additive manufacturing technologies.

Cooperating with the Aeronautics Advanced Manufacturing Centre (CFAA) in the Basque region of Spain, Renishaw engineers will study components made using additive technology, through 5-axis inspection with and without contact, with REVO.

In addition to Renishaw Ibérica, other business partners in the Futuralve project include ITP, Metalúrgica Marina, Mizar Additive Manufacturing, ONA, and Metrología Sariki.;;;;;;;