Jan 19, 2018 | By Tess

Patria, a Finnish aerospace and defense solutions company, has announced that it has successfully completed the maiden flight of an F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft equipped with a 3D printed engine part. The event marks the first time a 3D printed aircraft engine component has taken to the skies in Finland.

The part in question was 3D printed from Inconel 625 (a nickel-based superalloy) and has been in development for the last two years. It was designed by Patria engineers to meet MDOA standards (Military Design Organization Approval). Patria was granted MDOA approval by the Finnish Military Aviation Authority (FMAA), putting it in line with European Military Aviation Requirements (EMARs).

Built into a F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet engine, the 3D printed part made local history on January 5, 2018, when it successfully completed its maiden flight. After two years of hard work, the excitement on behalf of the Patria team behind the 3D printed part was undoubtedly palpable.

“For this part, the development work has been done over the last two years, with the aim of exploring the manufacturing process for 3D printable parts, from drawing board to practical application,” commented Ville Ahonen, Vice President of Patria Aviation’s business unit.

Of course, Patria has not dedicated all of its 3D printing resources for this unique engine part, as the company is also exploring other uses and applications for the technology within the aerospace and defense sectors. The Finnish company plans to capitalize on the advantages that additive manufacturing offers.

“Using 3D printing to make parts enables a faster process from customer need to finished product, as well as the creation of newer, better structures. We will continue research on additive manufacturing methods, with the aim of making the new technology more efficient,” Ahonen added.

Within Finland, Patria Aviation Oy has been a strong proponent for additive manufacturing technologies. In addition to adopting 3D printing at its own research and development facilities, the company was also an active participant in a 3D printing-based research project initiated by Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.

The project, launched in 2016, was focused on the development of 3D printed spare parts and has relied on the cooperation of thirteen participating companies, among which Patria is included. The ultimate goal of the project was to establish a digital network of 3D printable spare parts, which would help to facilitate the adoption of dynamic digital manufacturing processes, including 3D printing.

This past November, Aalto University and VTT Finland announced certain findings of the two-year study which suggested that roughly 5% of all spare parts have the potential to be stored digitally (and additively manufactured on demand) rather than being kept in resource-consuming storage facilities.

“Industry now has every opportunity to boost business by making spare parts into a focus area of development,” said Sini Metsä-Kortelainen, VTT's project manager for the research, at the time. “3D printing technology has reached the stage where high-quality manufacturing is possible.”

If that wasn’t clear then, then it certainly is now, as Finland’s Patria has shown that 3D printed components are ready for end-use applications.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Colin Cini wrote at 1/22/2018 12:59:37 PM:

Does anyone know WHICH engine part was 3D printed?

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