Sep 24, 2018 | By Thomas

Airbus Helicopters is preparing serial production of latch shafts for the doors of A350 passenger aircraft through 3D printing process.

Airbus Helicopters is manufacturing doors for all Airbus aircraft programmes as a supplier. The company says the 3D printed components are cheaper to produce and weigh less than their counterparts made using traditional method.

The redesign of the latch shafts and the new production process have resulted in Airbus’s first large-scale production using metallic 3D printing.

The latch shafts are made using an EOS M 400-4 3D printer, an industrial additive manufacturing system which offers a large building volume of 400 x 400 x 400 mm combined with four lasers for up to four times higher productivity. Four laser beams melt the powder and produce the desired components layer by layer. This method allows parts to be created from much less material, making them lighter, yet just as sturdy as the original component, says Airbus Helicopters. Up to 28 latch shafts can be produced in just a single printing process.

Airbus says the latch shaft produced through 3D printing is 45% more lightweight and delivers a 25% production cost reduction versus a conventionally manufactured component.

As an A350 has 16 latch shafts, producing these parts using 3D printing leads to an approximately 4kg (8.8lb) weight reduction per aircraft.

Airbus Helicopters plans to deliver 2,200 components a year once production is fully operational. The company is in the process of qualifying the production of titanium door latch shafts for the long-haul aircraft through 3D printing, with serial production scheduled to start in early 2019.

The first A350 components – with serial number 420 – are set to fly in 2020. Airbus Helicopters has already started preparations to produce more A350 door components using 3D printing, and this method is also expected to be utilised to produce helicopter components.

From left to right: Andreas Stöckle, Head of Industrial Site Airbus Helicopters Donauwörth, Bruno Even, CEO Airbus Helicopters, Christian Cornille, Head of Industry Airbus Helicopters do the ribbon cutting for the industrial metallic 3D printing at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth.

“Our goal is to get developers making more use of 3D printing. This means that 3D printing should be taken into consideration right from the initial planning stages for new components, which may be able to be manufactured particularly easily and cost-effectively using this method,” said Luis Martin Diaz, Head of Industrial Service Centers, Airbus Helicopters Donauwörth). “Weight savings are especially important when it comes to helicopters. Airbus will start preparations for the industrialisation of 3D-printed helicopter components this year,” he added.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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