3D printing reaches new heights in aerospace manufacturing

From March Issue of Compositi Magazine

Scott Sevcik, VP Aerospace Business Segment – Stratasys

Thanks to high-performance aerospace-grade materials, the importance of additive manufacturing (3D printing) continues to be recognized within the aerospace industry. Here, Scott Sevcik, VP Aerospace Business Segment at Stratasys, one of the leading manufacturers of additive manufacturing solutions, looks at some of the current trends and developments that highlight the technology’s ongoing ability to deliver opportunities for aerospace manufacturers and their suppliers


Aerospace and additive manufacturing

The relationship between the aerospace and additive manufacturing (AM) industries is continually strengthening and evolving, with both sectors driven by innovation and change. As leaders in these fields invest in and develop technologies, the paths of these two manufacturing industries overlap and inform one another.

The unique capabilities of AM to produce complex geometries not possible with conventional production methods using lightweight materials, while enabling high levels of customization, work in symmetry with the needs of aerospace manufacturers, who continually strive to achieve faster speeds and utilize complex parts designs to increase efficiency.

While AM is still viewed as a relatively young industry, both aerospace OEMs and aircraft interior OEMs have actually been leveraging the most common additive manufacturing technology, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), for the better part of 30 years for prototyping. Fast forward a few decades and today the portfolio of FDM materials is expanding to meet the stringent requirements necessary to make interior aircraft parts flightworthy, while the level of repeatability achievable by high-performance systems enables the production of parts with consistent performance.


One of the greatest challenges faced by aerospace manufacturers looking to 3D print flight-ready parts is of course certification. While this and material performance have been barriers to wider adoption in the past, huge progress has been made in recent years in material development and specific solutions for aerospace. There are now a number of aerospace-grade materials that comply with the traceability standards outlined by regulatory agencies.





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