Aircraft part manufacturer Satair is using HP’s full colour 3D printing technology via service provider Fast Radius to produce redesigned tooling components.
The Airbus services company moved to adopt Fast Radius’ 3D printing capabilities in a bid to increase the speed and sustainability of aircraft maintenance tool delivery. Working with both Fast Radius and HP, Satair has additively manufactured GAGS tool pads, flap zero locking tools and pintle bearing alignment tools, all of which are industry compliant.
Using the HP Jet Fusion 580 Color platform, these tools were printed in a PA 12 material, to take advantage of its chemical resistance to oils, greases, aliphatic hydrocarbons and alkalis, and in red and orange colours, to enhance their visibility. The GAGS tool pads have a reduced mass of 60% and an improved strength-to-weight ratio; the flap zero locking tools have been reduced from six assembled components to two, with its lead time halved; and the pintle bearing alignment tools have been reduced from four parts to two.
ZAL Tech Center played host to this year’s Red Cabin Aircraft Cabin AM Conference.
I’ve said it before, since working in additive manufacturing I’ve adopted a bit of a habit of playing “spot the additive application” whenever I board a plane. Great for editorial, but quite annoying, I would imagine, for my other half whenever we go on holiday.
The same happened last week as I hopped on a flight to Hamburg for the second Red Cabin Aircraft Cabin Additive Manufacturing conference. As I settled into the brash yellow and blue my seats of my budget aircraft (the glamorous life of the media), I began circling with imaginary red pen all of the areas where AM might find a useful home from the tens of assembled parts I could see in the arm rest mechanism to the unnecessary tray tables that had been bolted shut to restrict use in the rows of emergency exit seats (it’s really almost TOO glamorous).
Two ferry rides later, it was exactly those types of applications that a collective of aerospace specialists and additive experts had gathered at the ZAL Tech Center, south of the River Elbe, to explore. If being privy to two days worth of brain storming sessions with a bunch of 3D printing-literate engineers shows you anything, it’s that those far flung ideas like personalised seats and bionic bathrooms are not a million miles away from reality. Though the suggestion of a real-life RoboCop may be taking things a little too far.
“3D printing will be a game-changer for the MRO industry worldwide.”
Pratt & Whitney is set to introduce a 3D printed aero-engine component into its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations by mid-2020 after a successful collaboration with ST Engineering.
The two companies came together to leverage 3D printing technology to facilitate faster and more flexible repair solutions, with contributions also coming from Pratt & Whitney’s repair specialist Component Aerospace Singapore.
Component Aerospace Singapore provides engine part repair for combustion chambers, fuel systems and manifolds; ST Engineering boasts ‘production-level 3D capabilities’ and experience applying 3D printing in land transport systems; and Pratt & Whitney is a specialist in design and engineering.
The use of 3D printing for maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) will double “in the coming years,” according to a survey of 114 respondents, conducted by Dimensional Research and Essentium, a 3D printing platform. The survey did not specify a time frame for “in the coming years.”
The respondents see use cases for 3D printing in various types of prototyping and parts production. Benefits of the technology include reduced lead times, cost reduction, the ability for mass customization and a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Despite respondents naming cost reduction as a benefit, the plurality reported cost as the biggest obstacle to adopting 3D printing at scale. 3D printing technology and materials are too expensive, according to more than one-third of respondents.
“3D printing and digital manufacturing is driving a world with less waste, less inventory and lower CO2 emissions.”
George Brasher, HP’s UK & Ireland MD says the next year, and decade, will be an exciting time for additive manufacturing.
2020 is set to be the year when the potential of 3D printing is realised across more industries. We’ve seen in the previous decade how 3D tech has turned traditional production models and workflows on their head, offering on-demand, bespoke manufacturing – and presenting us with a modern model of the artisan age. This is only going to develop further as we begin this new decade.
So what are the key trends to watch out for, and where will we see the 3D industry focus its attention in 2020?
Thanks to their higher lifetime value, retailers are putting more effort into fulfilling the delivery needs of omnichannel consumers. Despite representing only 7% of total customers, omnichannel customers account for 27% of all sales; so they order more and more often than others.
Plus, digital media use before and while consumers shop already influences most in-store sales, and its influence is increasing, projected to influence 58% of all in-store sales by 2022. By embracing an omnichannel model, merchants can improve their chances of remaining profitable while improving the service they provide customers buying in-store or online.
When buying online, omnichannel consumers increasingly demand smaller, more frequent shipments to their doorsteps, workplaces and/or a convenient pickup location, and many will take their business elsewhere if merchants don’t oblige. According to Forbes coverage of a Capgemini study, for example, almost half of consumers say they would stop buying from a retailer that could not provide a satisfactory delivery. On the other hand, 55% said two-hour deliveries would increase their brand loyalty.
Access to and use of additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, has increased in recent years due to the expiring of patents on techniques and technologies, says Hugues Greder, Lead Petroleum Engineer at Total.
Computing power is much more powerful and there’s also been an increase in the power of the lasers used in the AM process. While a large proportion of AM today is still for prototyping and tooling, about a third is for end uses, i.e. parts, he told the Underwater Technology Conference (UTC) in Bergen, Norway, earlier this year. And more is likely to come.
Total is keen to talk about AM after some recent success stories, including solving a problem during deepwater subsea pipeline commissioning that would have otherwise cost more than €10 million ($11.2 million) to rectify. The problem was found during the Egina field commissioning in 2018.
As additive manufacturing goes mainstream, supply chains are presented with tough decisions. Are the speed and flexibility worth the cost?
To produce brake calipers for its Chiron supercar, Bugatti embraced additive manufacturing, creating the largest titanium 3D printed component yet.
Because titanium is so strong, it’s impossible to use the same milling and forging technology used to form traditional aluminum calipers, Popular Science reported. Instead, the part is produced from 2,213 layers of titanium powder melted by lasers for over 45 hours and then heat-treated to 1,300 degrees. The part undergoes 11 hours of grinding to ensure each component meets exacting tolerances.
It lets aerospace engineers develop high-quality parts much faster than they could with traditional fabrication methods
July 2019 marked the 50-year anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. While the world has seen incredible technological and scientific strides since then, the broader space industry has been in stealth mode—exploring what’s possible, and what’s next, for humankind in space.
In 2018, the space sector grew to an incredible $3.25 billion industry. A number of different technologies are driving this rapid growth, but the most promising one is industrial-grade 3D metal printing (a.k.a. metal additive manufacturing). Once met with skepticism, 3D metal printing has proven itself to be a cost-effective and efficient way to develop production-ready parts, making it the new darling of the commercial race to space.
Additive manufacturing is no longer just for prototypes. Its increasing popularity and technical capabilities have pushed it into position to change the way manufacturers manage their spare parts inventory.
No matter how technologies change, or what new innovations break into the mainstream, the basic goals of manufacturing remain the same: Reduce unplanned downtime, reduce costs, eliminate unnecessary waste, etc. How fortunate it is that 3D printing (a.k.a. additive manufacturing) is one of those cool, innovative technologies that is finding itself a very nice spot in the realm of day-to-day cost and time savings. Not only can it be used to produce interesting and previously impossible designs, it has also become a useful way to change spare parts management.
When a system goes down, making the repairs needed to get it back up and running can be time-consuming. Even more so if the part that needs replacing is no longer readily available. With the right program in place, additive manufacturing can build that part on demand—whether through reverse engineering, digital files from the component supplier, or perhaps through the supplier itself.
In recent years, advances in the printing technology, in the materials that can be used, and the software control of the end-to-end workflow have fundamentally changed the way parts can be made with additive manufacturing, says John Nanry, co-founder and chief product officer at Fast Radius, which provides 3D printing services.