3-D printing continues its upward trajectory as an important player in the supply chain as exemplified by Airbus which has produced more than 1000 flight parts on its Stratasys FDM 3D Production Systems for use in the first-of-type A350 XWB aircraft.
The company said that the 3- D printed parts were used in place of traditionally manufactured parts to increase supply chain flexibility, enabling it to meet its delivery commitment on-time.
Airbus initiated development and certification of 3-D printing with Stratasys in 2013 as a schedule risk reduction activity that proved valuable for the A350 XWB program, which was delivered in December of 2014.
Innovative 3D-printing (additive layer manufacturing) technology used by Airbus is beginning to shape the future of aircraft component manufacture for its jetliners
The parts are 3-D printed using ULTEM 9085 resin for FDM, which is certified to an Airbus material specification. ULTEM 9085 resin provides high strength-to-weight ratio and is FST (flame, smoke, and toxicity) compliant for aircraft interior applications. This enables Airbus to manufacture strong, lighter weight parts while substantially reducing production time and manufacturing costs.
The parts were installed in the A350 flight test prototypes, mainly for Flight Test Installation (FTI)
Airbus is using 3-D printed flight parts to increase supply chain flexibility
“Additive manufacturing also greatly improves the buy-to-fly ratio as significantly less material is wasted than with conventional manufacturing methods, “ explained Dan Yalon, executive vice president, for Stratasys. “We look forward to bringing these and other advantages to its collaboration with Airbus and to being part of Airbus’ Factory of the Future initiative.”