Mar.17, 2014

Airbus and China's North Western Polytechnical University (NPU) have signed a cooperation agreement on exploring ways to further apply 3D printing technology in the commercial aviation sector.

Airbus is exploring the use of 3D printing technology to manufacture individual parts or even larger airframe structures for the company's line of aircraft.

The project will focus on printing aircraft parts in one print job, reducing allowance and material deformation during the 3D printing process. Under this new agreement, NPU will manufacture test specimens of titanium alloy parts for Airbus using its Laser Solid Forming technology. The specimens will be manufactured according to Airbus specifications and will be measured and assessed by Airbus.

Airbus is also working towards spare part solutions or manufacturing larger aircraft parts with this technology, which is ideal for producing cost-effective, out-of-production aircraft spare parts on demand.

The State Key Laboratory of Solidification Processing of NPU began its research of Laser Solid Forming in 1995. The emphasis has been focused on obtaining excellent mechanical properties for 3D printed metal parts through careful control of the material microstructures. In 2013 the lab manufactured a central wing spar for Comac C919 passenger-plane which is expected to take place in 2014 and to enter commercial service in 2016. This central wing spar is 5 meter long and its mechanical properties meet the standard of forging parts.

3D printing technology could transform the manufacturing of airplane parts because it's potentially cheaper, and could result in components that are up to 55% lighter than those produced using traditional manufacturing methods, says Airbus in a statement. The technology offers greater manufacturing flexibility, a promising reduction in the manufacturing process' environmental footprint as well as cost- and weight-saving potential. In addition, this technique is ideally suited to producing low volume parts and is fantastic for prototyping.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

 

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