The aerospace industry has quickly found the utility in 3D printing items, both in reducing the cost of making parts themselves and in the cost reduction of operating aircraft with 3D printed parts, through the reductions in emissions and fuel use by having optimized designs. With Boeing now using the technology in its Dreamliner, we can safely say that 3D printing is no longer just for prototyping, and is part of the manufacturing mix!
The move will reduce production costs for each Dreamliner by $2M to $3M
Boeing will begin using at least four 3D-printed titanium parts to construct its 787 Dreamliner aircraft and may some day rely on as many as 1,000 parts created via additive manufacturing.
Boeing has hired Oslo, Norway-based Norsk Titanium AS to print the parts. It marks the first time that FAA-approved, 3D-printed titanium parts will be used as structural components on a commercial aircraft, according to the company.
The parts will be used near the rear of the Dreamliner, a mid-sized, wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner. Boeing builds about 144 Dreamliners each year.