Oct 27, 2016 | By Tess

3D printing has been making a big impact in various industries all around the world, by streamlining design and prototyping processes, and by allowing for the creation of more complex parts. Recently, we learned about how additive manufacturing technologies were making a difference at the Brazilian Air Force’s Institute of Advanced Studies (IEAv) in its Aerothermodynamics and Experimental Hypersonic Division. Through the use of a powerful Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D printer, the IEAv has advanced its methods for testing prototypes and has found a more cost and time effective way of validating the flight feasibility of new parts.

According to a researcher from the IEAv, the Institute had been searching for a way to speed up the experimental and development process for its new aerospace components. 3D printing became an increasingly viable option for this, especially after the IEAv found success in additively manufacturing a specific part (an aircraft entry ramp with a 15 degree slope with holes for gas fuel injection). Since then, 3D printing has been used by the Institute to produce prototypes of hypersonic engines, and aircraft models, which can undergo a number of tests, such as shock tunnel testing, and more.

As mentioned, the IEAv chose to bring in Stratasys’ Fortus 900mc Production 3D printer, an advanced FDM system that allows for the production of large and precise parts—the 3D printer boasts a build volume of 914 x 610 x 914 mm (36 x 24 x 36 inches).

Prior to using the FDM 3D printer, the IEAv relied on traditional manufacturing techniques which were not only expensive, but also very time consuming, even taking up to six months to produce a part. With the adoption of 3D printing technologies, however, the researchers have managed to cut this time down significantly and have even been able to produce prototypes for testing within a week. As one can imagine, this radically speeds up the prototyping process, as the design can be quickly tweaked and quickly retested for more optimal results.

Dr. Antonio Carlos de Oliveira, senior researcher at the IEAv, said, “This new form of prototyping with 3D printing is giving us greater flexibility, reliability and speed, at a significantly lower cost. 3D printing technology is redefining our laboratory limits, opening up new possibilities and aspects of research. In addition, we gain the added benefit of ensuring the secrecy of our innovations and the security of the aerospace and defense projects that we develop.”

Currently, the IEAv is working on the production of hybrid models—essentially 3D printed prototypes which contain metal or other advanced materials. With these, the Institute is aiming to advance the strength and efficiency properties of its new parts.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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