Honeywell Aerospace, the aerospace division of conglomerate Honeywell, has received a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for its first 3D printed flight-critical engine component. The part in question – a #4/5 bearing housing – is a key structural component of the ATF3-6 turbofan engine found in the Dassault Falcon 20G maritime patrol aircraft. The part is already in production and has been installed in an operational Falcon unit, with dozens more expected to be printed by the end of the year.
Jon Hobgood, Vice President of Manufacturing Engineering at Honeywell Aerospace, states: “This is a major milestone for Honeywell because it demonstrates the maturity of our Additive Manufacturing operations and paves the way for us to print more certified, flight-critical parts in the future. It also is a major win for the additive industry, as flight-critical parts face heavy scrutiny and high standards for qualification and installation on aircraft, but this shows it can be done.”
Recently on the 3DPod, we discussed supply chain resilience with HP’s Ramon Pastor. He mentioned that he believes that cost-driven supply chains are a thing of the past. He said that, previously, companies thought that, if they had two suppliers for a part or factories in different countries, this was enough to ensure resilience.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all learned that this is not enough. A genuinely global crisis has meant that both of a company’s supplier factories separated by oceans can be closed by the same event. What’s more, local events like a gigantic port fire in Dalian or a longshoreman strike in California can have knock-on effects that reverberate throughout the globe. At the same time, Pastor contended that we may have just experienced an unprecedented period of stability that may, in fact, be ending, bringing more geopolitical risk.
Optomec has recorded more than 10 million turbine blade refurbishments with its metal 3D printing technology after conducting a recent customer survey.
The company says it now has more than 100 customer installations of its metal 3D printing systems specifically for gas turbine components repair, with installations made at leading gas turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEM) in the aviation and energy markets, such as GE, as well as many third-party maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) shops.
At these companies, Optomec has installed its LENS brand Metal Additive 3D printers and Huffman brand 5-axis Laser Cladders, both based on Directed Energy Deposition (DED) technology. Customers are said to value Optomec’s proficiencies in adaptvie control software, controlled inert atmosphere processing for superior metallurgy, turn-key repair process recipes and automation solutions that facilitate higher throughput batch processing.
UK-based global major aerospace and defence group BAE Systems (BAES) has reported how the latest technologies are being used to drive forward, with unprecedented speed, Britain’s next-generation combat air system programme. Known as Tempest, this project is really benefitting from and making full use of digital twinning and three-dimensional (3D) printing (also known as additive manufacturing) technologies.
Digital twinning involves creating, in a computer system, an exact but virtual duplicate of a real-world entity and of all its systems, subsystems and components. Except that the real-world entity does not actually have to exist yet, as is the case with Tempest. The virtual duplicate can then be subjected to all sorts of simulated tests and evaluations, accelerating the design process while reducing costs.
As a person in the additive manufacturing media, well-meaning texts from friends and family members containing 3D printing news stories are always a good indication of the technology’s footing in the mainstream conversation. So, as the coronavirus pandemic hit and 3D printers were poised as the solution to pressing supply chain challenges for crucial items on the frontline, you can imagine, my inbox was pretty full.
Hospitals brought 3D printers in-house to support production of protective medical equipment, universities loaned their additive capabilities to print parts for local healthcare providers, and 3D printing equipment manufacturers became service providers overnight.
How that awareness and momentum might extend to the coming months and indeed years, particularly as this health crisis remains, is up for debate, and yesterday a trio of panellists across various industry segments came together to discuss what that could look like.
3D printing’s virtual inventories and on-demand manufacturing offer cost-savings and increased flexibility, but there are risks.
It seems a no-brainer to adopt digital supply chains, but they carry risks that are untenable if not eliminated. For example, how do big brands seize such opportunities while maintaining part consistency and quality and protecting their intellectual property (IP) – and ultimately upholding brand integrity?
The COVID-19 pandemic is shining a spotlight on the opportunities presented by 3D printing/additive manufacturing (AM), including the possibilities around virtual inventories and on-demand manufacturing. These advantages can deliver cost-savings, increased responsiveness and flexibility to customers, without the need for huge investments. As we’ve seen, the weak link in any supply chain is maintaining and replenishing the physical inventory – an enormously expensive task.
The 3D printing technology also served as an alternative and more efficient manufacturing option to keep up with the demand for nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs.
Amid worldwide disruptions in supply chains due to Covid-19 restrictions, the 3D printing technology has enabled on-demand solutions for needs ranging from personal protection equipment to medical devices and isolation wards, say researchers.
The researchers examined how the digital versatility and quick prototyping of 3D printing has enabled the rapid mobilisation of the technology and a swift response to emergencies in a closed loop economy.
“Just because the field is progressing does not mean we have grounds for complacency.”
All students of the environment learn the three cardinal rules of sustainability: reduce, reuse and recycle. And as we look to the future, pundits and thought leaders routinely point to 3D printing as a solution for improving and streamlining manufacturing to something leaner, greener and more environmentally friendly.
Farms and factories require massive emission outputs and loads of energy. Small polymer 3D printing systems, on the other hand, are fuelled with little effort. But additive manufacturing is not a magic bullet. Is 3D printing more sustainable than traditional manufacturing methods? It depends on how you look at it.
In many ways, additive manufacturing is significantly more sustainable, and more reasonable for the environment and the earth, than traditional manufacturing methods. Let us count the ways.
Every sector is in the midst of a digital transformation journey adopting the latest technologies worldwide.
Sectors such as supply chain, manufacturing, logistics and transportation are currently facing an extreme shift in the adoption of new technologies. Not only has the current pandemic been a catalyst in adoption, technology is currently in the midst of its biggest transformation yet. New technology innovations have enabled us to automate processes, manage the supply chain and track data using blockchain.
3D printing has been around for over 20 years but has only recently been adopted by large-scale markets. This technology allows for companies to create specific devices or products in-house using specialised materials while minimising cost. This means independence for the supply chain and manufacturing industries as well as reducing delivery times and eliminating the need to store a large number of products in a warehouse.
3D printing is a globally used language meaning that digital files can be sent from anywhere and then printed locally, allowing for on-demand files to be printed immediately reducing inventory build-up and costs. This streamlined approach only brings positives to the manufacturing and supply chain sectors, and boasts huge benefits such as dealing with less risk, having more control and adding agility to their product lifecycle.
But not only must we stop China, we must also protect our own interests and recreate American Self-Reliance. Sadly, the situation described in How Not to Lose Your IP When Developing a Product with Your China Factory is all too common. But there is a homegrown solution that is faster, safer and more cash flow friendly than ordering containers from China. The solution is additive manufacturing, a/k/a 3D printing, which was invented by an American, Dr, Chuck Hull, in 1986.
The United States has had the opportunity to fortify its Self-Reliance for over 30 years and it’s been more or less squandered in the name of globalization, which has mostly been defined to mean China manufacturers pretty much everything for the rest of the world. If we’re morally obligated to do anything it’s to reestablish the self-sufficiency on which America was founded. Not the kind where you can’t get medical supplies during a pandemic. We must cease to be at the mercy of a country like China.