Despite some early sceptics, 3D printing’s impact in aerospace is now pretty undeniable.
“3d printing has become a great asset for the airline industry,” said Eric Bredin, Stratasys, noting that its use is particularly prevalent in the cabin interior.
Bredin explained: “More and more companies are looking to streamline their manufacturing processes,” optimising weight and costs.
Stratasys provides tools and services for 3D printing lightweight structures which are certified for the aerospace industry, including tooling to optimise the manufacturing process and directly manufactured parts for cabin interiors.
3D printing: On the up
He said: "Many manufacturers have been adopting the technology, looking at specific parts inside the cabin – sometimes you don't see them, sometimes you start seeing them – you don't know that it's 3d printed, but it's there, and [we will see this] more and more in the future."
Taking innovation even further, Stratasys has been looking at how to integrate details such as texture into the design file to reduce post-production processing, such as sanding.
A key area now in 3D printing is looking at further integrating processes to reap even more advantages from the use of additive manufacturing.
Another benefit of 3D printing could be remote or distributed manufacturing at a time when manufacturing faces disruption from issues such as Brexit, trade wars and more.
“Instead of shipping hardware and goods, you could send files,” says Bredin, noting that this requires adequate file protection to ensure intellectual property rights and that the product is printed properly.