Is 3D Printing Bringing a Revolution in Aerospace Industry?
3D printing has enabled the creation of complex components with reduced costs and turnaround times in the highly-regulated environment of aerospace. Improving manufacturing capabilities, 3D printing facilitates flexible part production, lightweight efforts, fuel savings, and reduced environmental harm. Especially in the field of 3D printing of service parts the aerospace industry can benefit from the increased asset uptime, reduced costs, lighter components, more durability, and increased customer satisfaction. Particularly in 3D printing, mesh/lattice structures allow parts to have the same strength and function with less material, reducing overall weight.
Alongside manufacturing, companies also test and improve software and processes aiming to construct an end-to-end solution for 3D printing in the aerospace industry. For instance, Materialise software and services support 3D printing from design, optimization, management, and automation of workflows to print a product.
The 3D printing service providers acquire information from the aerospace team to identify all the pain points and applications of 3D printing that the customers can utilize to their advantage. For instance, some jig and drill fixtures can benefit from 3D printing customization. Optimized support structure design and removal processes for Metal software help designers improve efficiency in drone manufacturing. A lattice structure within a 3D printed titanium insert for use in spacecraft contributes to optimized strength with reduced weight.
Aerospace companies also benefit from software solutions for certified production workflows such as the Streamics production management solution that is traceable and repeatable. The 328 Group oversees the maintenance, modification, and refurbishment of its fleet of commuter airliners.
With its good performance in the production of smaller-scale parts in the aerospace industry, the future hints at entire aerospace frames being 3D printed and the emergence of on-site printing. The 3D printed smaller craft and drones, like SoleonAgro is already serving biological pest control in agriculture and reducing the cost of product development.