Jun 15, 2016 | By Benedict

Airbus APWorks, a subsidiary of the Airbus Group has entered a nonexclusive additive manufacturing partnership with Altair Engineering, a Michigan-based product design and software company. The deal will see the two companies offering joint AM solutions to customers across various industries.

A month ago, Airbus APWorks unveiled the Light Rider, an incredible 3D printed electric motorcycle with a top speed of 80 km/h. Just 50 Light Riders were built, so count yourself very lucky if you managed to snap one up for €50,000. The Light Rider project received important technical contributions from several APWorks departments and third parties, one of which was Altair Engineering, a software specialist headquartered in Troy, Michigan, whose OptiStruct structural analysis solver was used to optimize the design of the “organic” 3D printed frame of the motorcycle. Following the success of that particular aspect of the Light Rider project, APWorks and Altair have put pen to paper on a nonexclusive additive manufacturing partnership, enabling each company to take full advantage of the other’s expertise.

“At Altair we have always believed that the place for simulation and optimization is right at the concept phase of the development process,” said Dr. Pietro Cervellera, Managing Director at Altair. “A simulation driven design process can help designers and engineers generate better design ideas faster and inject innovation into products. APWorks has fully embraced this philosophy as demonstrated by the ‘Light Rider’. The bionic frame of this new motorbike APWorks developed has been inspired by nature, generated with OptiStruct’s topology optimization technology and then printed.”

The 3D printed Light Rider motorcycle

The new partnership will involve two main areas of collaboration, the first being joint, end-to-end consulting by the two partners in order to draw companies into the world of additive manufacturing. This will be achieved by pilot project and technology demonstrators. To convince customers to consider additively manufactured solutions, APWorks and Altair will conduct a thorough evaluation process that will involve identifying applications, redesigning currently non-printed components, assessing potential levels of product performance improvements after conversion to 3D printed alternatives, printing and testing of prototypes, cost analysis, and business case preparation. The two companies will then help to integrate additive manufacturing into the customer’s organization.

The other key area of the collaboration will involve a joint effort to improve Altair software using APWorks’ expertise and experience. The goal of the project will be to develop an end-to-end, simulation-driven design process for 3D printed metal parts, giving engineers an intuitive and seamless working environment going from design to validation. “This partnership will help us to support our customers even better,” said Joachim Zettler, Managing Director of Airbus APWorks. “Our know-how in additive manufacturing and Altair's expertise in Simulation Driven Design are a perfect combination to help customers truly benefit from the advantages of additive manufacturing.”

Inside Altair's OptiStruct topology optimization software

Both APWorks and Altair are confident that their partnership will bring about many more additive manufacturing success stories to follow in the tracks of the 3D printed Light Rider. According to Dr. Robert Yancey, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing for Altair, the combination of his company’s software expertise and APWorks’ manufacturing cloud will bring about new 3D printed goods far superior to their traditionally manufactured predecessors: “Topology optimization combined with additive manufacturing will bring about a large range of new products that will be lightweight, efficient, appealing, and sustainable,” he said. “We are very pleased to partner with an innovative organization like APWorks that is aggressively developing and producing these new products of the future with additive manufacturing.”



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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