Jun 29, 2017 | By Tess

Eviation Aircraft, an Israel-based manufacturer of electric aircraft, is developing one of the world’s very first all-electric commuter aircrafts. The company, which hopes to make eco-friendly and cost-effective regional air travel a reality within the next four years, is developing its innovative plane with the help of 3D printing technologies, specifically Stratasys’ 3D printing solutions.

Within the aviation industry, there is a growing trend towards the development of hybrid-electric and even fully electric commercial planes, especially for short distance commuting. As Eviation founder and CEO Omer Bar-Yohay explains, “With people working and commuting across greater distances than ever before, we believe the solution will bring mid-range cities like Seoul and Beijing, or London and Paris, closer together through all-electric air travel.”

Eviation says that 3D printing has enabled it to engineer its electric aircraft in a bottom-up, holistic manner. Like in many other industries, additive manufacturing has allowed the company to easily prototype and test designs without investing time and resources into producing certifiable components.

For instance, Eviation was able to 3D print wing-tip motors in mere hours while waiting for other motor parts to be shipped. Printed using Stratasys' Fortus 450mc Production 3D printer and ABS plastic, the parts allowed Eviation to quickly evaluate the design’s functionality and viability.

The company also 3D printed a “composite lay-up tool” out of ULTEM 1010 material, which was covered in carbon fiber and used to support the smooth, aerodynamic surface of the aircraft’s exterior. For this, Eviation also found the best results from creating lightweight, geometrically complex, and strong parts for the supportive structure.

3D printed wing tip motor (left) with final motor (right)

“Our ability to create new iterations of designs with 3D printing and see how they perform in real-time is helping us reduce critical capital costs, even as we accelerate our rapid prototyping phase,” explained Bar-Yohay. “The kind of highly iterative, in-house manufacturing process that Stratasys 3D printing has refined is crucial to the life of a company in the constantly changing, and highly competitive, transportation space.”

Bar-Yohay estimated that in the two years his company has been using Stratasys 3D printing solutions, it has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as six months or more of labor hours. These savings are making Eviation’s all-electric aircraft project realizable.

Currently, the company is using 3D printing to prototype test parts and tooling. “The ability to produce lightweight parts in complex geometries will also enable us to explore the possibility of 3D printing parts for the final aircraft,” added Bar-Yohay.

3D printed parts for Eviation Aircraft’s plane are being displayed by Stratasys at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England. The parts are being displayed as part of the Future Lab and will be showcased from June 29 to July 2. Eviation, for its part, says its all-electric aircraft should be ready for flight testing as soon as late 2018. The goal is to have it commercially available by 2021.

“Eviation is a great example of how 3D printing promotes in-house innovation and can accelerate what is typically a long and expensive development phase for both start-ups and mature companies,” said Zehavit Reisin, Vice President, Head of Rapid Prototyping Solutions Business Unit, Stratasys. “Our extensive experience in aerospace—ranging from prototypes and tools to the use of our technology for flight-certified aircraft interior and launch vehicle components—makes Stratasys solutions an optimal fit for aviation companies looking to improve cycle time and development efficiency, while pushing the envelope of innovation.”

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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