Digital and 3D printing technologies accelerate development of new UK fighter aircraft

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.

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Wärtsilä Marine testing potential of additive manufacturing


When Wärtsilä Marine Solutions took the decision to utilize additive manufacturing to create a vital component for an inert gas system, initial production prototypes displayed an unexpected characteristic. In this new field, with new potential, DNV GL’s established expertise was on hand to help. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has the potential to transform the maritime equipment supply chain. With the adoption of technology enabling printing in metal, vital spare parts and system components can now be printed on demand in locations around the world, including on vessels themselves. The result is dramatically reduced lead times, costs, labour needs, stock requirements and environmental impact, as well as the complete disruption of traditional business models.

And that’s just the supply side. The impact on manufacturing capability is just as radical. Suddenly the constraints of traditional processes can be broken, with machines bringing previously impossible designs to life through the precise application of layer upon layer of metals. For the frontrunners in maritime manufacturing, such as Wärtsilä Moss AS, it represents a special kind of magic.

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Additive Manufacturing can reduce part counts significantly

Manufacturers can experience productivity gains by using 3D printing to reduce the overall number of parts in products and assemblies.

3D Systems, additive manufacturing 3D printing, part count reduction, PCR

Designing a complex product (or assembly) always presents challenges. Creating a design that requires as few parts as possible—while retaining full functionality—can be even more of a challenge. In general terms, reducing the number of components in an assembly contributes to a better manufacturing process—an imperative for all manufacturing. However, performing part count reduction exercises while using traditional processes only takes you so far in parts-count reduction.

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Audi to use Stratasys 3D printing to accelerate design verification

The German automotive manufacturer, Audi, has integrated the Stratasys J750 3D printer into its design operations.

Audi is using the Stratasys J750 printer to produce parts for prototypes

The printer, the world’s only full-colour, multi-material 3D printer, has been adopted by Audi to innovate and accelerate its design process.

The firm has found that it is able to produce prototypes efficiently and effectively through additive manufacturing.

At its Pre-Series Centre in Ingolstadt, Germany, Audi has been able to reduce the prototyping time for its tail light covers by 50% since implementing the Stratasys printer, against methods such as moulding and milling.

“Design is one of the most important buying decisions for Audi customers, therefore it’s crucial we adhere to supreme quality standards during the design and concept phase of vehicle development,” explains Dr. Tim Spiering, Head of the Audi Plastics 3D Printing Centre.

An additive evolution

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is a growing market and one that is shifting away from traditional prototyping and into the world of direct manufacturing, as a range of industries begin to recognise its potential.

Andreas Saar, VP manufacturing engineering solutions and additive manufacturing programme lead at Siemens PLM Software, said: ‘Every industry can benefit from additive manufacturing. It is a disruptive technology that transforms every aspect of the design, simulation and the manufacturing of products. The complexity of additive manufacturing, not just over the entire lifecycle of a product but across the range of industries, is a challenge.’

A number of economic barriers must also be overcome, as Dr Jean Sreng, marketing business development manager for additive manufacturing at the ESI Group, explained: ‘Additive manufacturing is, today, a process which is cost effective at low volume and high complexity geometries. Even though we are all working to decrease this cost effectiveness ratio to achieve high volumes, more traditional manufacturing techniques such as stamping, welding, casting, will always have a complementary effectiveness with additive manufacturing.’

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Planning to buy a 3D printer? These are 7 details you should pay attention to


I remember when I was planning my first 3D printer purchase. These were endless hours of browsing phrases like “3D printer choice criteria” or “the most important 3D printer details/parts”.Almost every article’s main point was “it depends on what do you want your 3D printer to be used for”.And this is obviously true. Of course, I know that this is not what you are looking for, so in this article I would like to introduce you to a list of the seven most-important features of 3D printers which you need to look at before buying a new one of your own.

  1. Build volume

This is usually the first parameter given by 3D printer manufacturers. It determines the maximum size your printed element can be. It involves three numbers. The first two are the length and width of your printing, and the third is height. So, at the beginning you should think about the biggest thing that you might want to 3D print with your device, and reject all the 3D printers whose build volume is too small. You should also pay attention to the units used. Some manufacturers use inches, others use millimetres or inches, so be careful.

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Engineering Fit: Optimizing design for functional 3D printed assemblies

Adapting the approach to design to take into account the realities of 3D printing is one of the wider issues that needs seeing to when adopting that technology in the supply chain.  FormLabs have prepared an insightful paper on this topic

Tolerance and fit are essential concepts that engineers use to optimize the functionality of mechanical assemblies and the cost of production. For 3D printed assemblies specifically, designing for proper tolerance and fit lowers post-processing time and ease of assembly, and reduces the material cost of iteration.

Use this white paper as a resource when designing functional 3D printed assemblies, or as a starting point when designing the fit between parts printed in Formlabs Tough or Durable resins. Download the white paper now if you want more information on:

  • The value of tolerances in 3D printing
  • The categories and types of engineering fit
  • Specific recommended design tolerances for Formlabs Tough v4 and Durable v3 resins

The coefficient of friction for Tough and Durable are also measured, which can be helpful for designing sliding or kinematic solutions.

What you will learn

Design functional 3D printed assemblies that work as intended, with the least amount of post-processing or trial-and-error. Download the white paper now to learn:

  • How to choose the appropriate fit (clearance, transition, or interference) for different types of functional 3D printed assemblies
  • When to use Tough or Durable resins for different fits and assembly applications
  • Recommendations for lubricants, bonded components, and machining

This white paper also included downloadable test models that allow you to repeat our tests and determine design tolerances for other 3D printed materials.

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Dassault Systèmes develops new online marketplace for manufacturers using 3D printing

Dassault Systèmes has become a major player in the 3D printing industry over the last decade, mostly due to its advanced 3D design software as well as the useful integration of design, simulation and production tools provided by its 3DExperience platform. A productive collaboration with Airbus has also seen the French company at the forefront of 3D printing’s expansion into the aerospace sector. It could now be on the cusp of bringing about another minor revolution in the worlds of 3D printing technology and manufacturing, as it has announced a new business strategy that will make all its products available for free.

License fees for Dassault Systèmes’ impressive range of 3D design and printing solutions can be prohibitively expensive for many companies, with its multi-platform software suite CATIA costing around EUR 15,000. This is all set to change, as the company transitions towards a new economic model. Users will be able to access CATIA, Solidworks, Simulia and all other Dassault Systèmes products entirely free of charge.

Instead of charging to use its software, the company will be rolling out a new online intermediation platform, or a ‘marketplace’, which will generate revenue according to a commission-based system. Once a project is completed, and the design is sent to a 3D printing service or company for the final stage of production, Dassault Systèmes will charge a fee to the 3D printing provider based on the value of the product.

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Futuralve project uses metal 3D printing to improve high-speed aerospace turbines

Renishaw is a busy company, lending its metrology and metal 3D printing expertise to a broad variety of applications from boats to eye surgery. One of its primary industries, however, has always been aerospace. That’s a particular area of focus right now for Renishaw Ibérica, the company’s Spanish subsidiary. Currently, Renishaw Ibérica is part of a large project known as the Futuralve project, which is geared towards the development of new, advanced materials and manufacturing technologies for aerospace turbines.

The Futuralve project is being led by ITP, a Spain-based, international manufacturer of aerospace engines and turbines. Participants include a consortium of other Spanish companies, as well as universities and technology centers. It’s a four-year project, funded by the Spanish government through the Center for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), and its goal is to enhance the production of high-speed turbines through advanced manufacturing and materials.

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Materialise says co-creation is key to success in 3D printing industry

1.jpgThere aren’t many companies that can pull off a multi-track, two-day conference using only its partner network and top it off with a Jimmy Fallon show-style event complete with its own ‘3D Printed Hearts Band’ made entirely of its staff. But then there aren’t many companies like Materialise, which recently ticked all of those boxes, and then some, when it hosted its biannual World Summit in Brussels.

Materialise founder and CEO, Fried Vancraen, welcomed delegates to SQUARE on April 20th with a brief history of how the Belgian 3D printing company has evolved over the last 27 years.

“We believe co-creation is at the base of many more successes,” Fried explained and that belief set the course for the presentations that followed with a host of Materialise partners discussing everything from aerospace to consumer goods.

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