June 15, 2014

3D printers could transform the manufacturing of airplane parts, because it's potentially cheaper, and can result in components that are more than 50% lighter than with traditional manufacturing methods.

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is expanding use of 3D printing technology to manufacture individual parts or even larger airframe structures for the company's line of aircraft. Airbus has started to use printed plastic parts in their A300/A310 Family and also their next-generation A350 XWB. Metal parts for wing slats, a section of the tail wing and door hinges have also been made with 3D printing. The 3D printed parts are lighter and stronger and have cost saving potential.

"We are on the cusp of a step-change in weight reduction and efficiency – producing aircraft parts which weight 30 to 55 percent less, while reducing raw material used by 90 percent," says Peter Sander of Airbus. "This game-changing technology also decreases total energy used in production by up to 90 percent compared to traditional methods."

In the long term 3D printing could reduce weight on each aircraft by more than a ton. according to Airbus, the first commercial flights with 3D printed metal parts are expected by 2016 and a mass production by 2018. By then about 30 tons metal parts will be printed every month.

Check out the video below to watch how Airbus expands 3D printing use.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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