3D Printing Takes Flight
Stratasys 3D printers are being in the aerospace industry throughout all processes and functions from design verification to end use parts. 3D printing is uniquely suited to meet the needs of the aerospace industry through design flexibility, cost reductions, weight savings, improved lead times, and materials that meets FAA flame regulations.
Check out the information below to see how companies are already using 3D printing in the aerospace industry. If you are ready to speak with one of our trusted advisers contact us today to learn more about which Stratasys 3D printer is best suited to meet your specific application.
End Use Parts
3D printing is no longer just a prototyping process, it is also a manufacturing process giving aerospace companies the ability to 3D print end use parts in production grade thermoplastics, such as ABS, poly-carbonate, and Ultem.
FDM 3D printing is the process of choice for low-volume production on parts that are highly complex and require a lightweight but durable material. Examples include air grates, panel covers, electronic housing, and mounting or attachment hardware, just to name a few.
“There is probably around 60-80 parts on this particular rover that’s all done by additive manufacturing, for a lot of different reasons. You can do it with additive manufacturing and it’s really simply. It really takes no effort for what would otherwise be a very complex process.” NASA – Read the full case study
FDM 3D printing boast strong engineering materials that print manufacturing tools, such as composite parts and hydroforming tools, faster and at a lower cost then traditional CNC machines. Add in the ease of use and unattended printing capability of these machines and it is no surprise that 3D printing in the aerospace industry is already helping companies gain an improved competitive edge.
“Tools produced with FDM cost only about 20% as much as CNC-produced tooling. FDM tooling can be produced in a single day compared to several weeks for CNC tooling.” Advanced Composite Structures – Read the full case study
“I can program an FDM part in 10 minutes while a typical CNC program takes four hours to write. The FDM machine can be much faster than a CNC machine and does not require an operator in attendance.” Piper Aircraft – Read the full case study
Surrogates & Training Aids
3D printed surrogate components can preserve all critical details needed for testing while minimizing expense and lead time. They can easily be produced as needed and with up-to-date configuration changes to confirm clearances.
By 3D printing surrogates in a bright material, such as red, or embedding RFID sensors during the printing process, they become easily tracked for final removal. As the product nears completion, the 3D printed surrogates can also be used as training aids for assembly or field service technicians.
“Because most of our projects are either one-of-a-kind or very low volume, conventional methods become very expensive. The versatility to manufacture any item coupled with zero hazardous waste is one of the greatest advantages to the Air Force.” Trainer Development Flight – Read the full case study
Flight Grade Materials
ULTEM 9085 & ULTEM 1010 are flame-retardant FDM thermoplastics that are ideal for the aerospace industry. These 3D printing materials offer high heat and chemical resistance, tensile strength, and FST (flame, smoke, and toxicity) ratings.
These characteristics make ULTEM materials a good fit for 3D printing ducts, housings, clips, semi-structural components, and composite layup tooling. Having a material that meets FAA flame regulations gives designers the freedom they need to create stronger, safer, and better parts.
“UTLEM 1010 provided the qualities needed for the nozzle. The new part has been in use for eight months without cracking or any other issues and has solved the fume control problem. We also expect that it will have longer life than the previous printed part.” UTC Aerospace Systems – Read full case study