Sep 14, 2017 | By Tess

European aeronautics leader Airbus has made yet another breakthrough in the fields of 3D printing and aviation: it has successfully installed a titanium 3D printed bracket on an in-series production A350 XWB aircraft.

Titanium 3D printed bracket installed on A350 XWB pylon

According to the company, while 3D printed parts have already been used in some of its series production Airbus A320neo and A350 XWB test aircraft, the recent installation marks the first time a 3D printed component will be included in a series production A350 aircraft.

The part itself is a bracket made from titanium which is fitted into the aircraft pylon, the part of the plane that effectively connects the wings and the engine. And though the 3D printed part is small, it has an important role to play in the pylon’s structure.

Airbus’ A350 XWB aircraft is built to accommodate 280 to 266 passengers, and is used by such commercial airlines as Qatar Airways, Singapore Airline, and Finnair. Other than now integrating a 3D printed element, the aircraft is also known as being the first Airbus plane to have its fuselage and wing structure made mostly from a carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer.

Of course, Airbus has been working with additive manufacturing for some time now, as the aeronautics company has been exploring its various applications within the industry and its future potentials.

Recently, for instance, Airbus successfully test flew its Airbus A380 passenger aircraft with a 3D printed spoiler actuator valve block. The part, manufactured by Liebherr-Aerospace, was reportedly the first 3D printed primary flight control hydraulic component ever flown on an Airbus aircraft.

Readers will probably also remember Airbus’ ongoing 3D printed partition project, which is aiming to create a much lighter partition for aircraft interiors. Made from a Scalmalloy metal alloy, the innovative partition was designed in collaboration with The Living, an Autodesk-owned architecture firm. As of last year, the partition is apparently being 3D printed.

(Images: Airbus)

Notably, Airbus made headlines last year for announcing that it plans to eventually 3D print half of the components used in its future airplane fleet. Of course, this is still a long way off (decades even), though having the first additively manufactured parts being integrated into production aircraft is a small step toward realizing this goal.

Other 3D printed parts that have been flown on Aibus test aircrafts include metal cabin brackets and bleed pipes. At 3Ders, we can’t wait to see what they 3D print next.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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