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Airbus subsidiary Premium AEROTEC has only reinforced its parent company’s dedication to 3D printing end parts, giving credence to the notion, posited by Airbus’s Peter Sander, that 2016 can see a big increase in 3D printing for industrial end products. The German aerospace developer has only opened its initially manufacturing facility for 3D printing titanium aircraft components, where it has begun serial production of metal 3D printed parts. Additionally, Premium AEROTEC is examining the use of Norsk Titanium‘s Rapid Plasma Deposition™ titanium parts for use in the production of the A350 XWB.

Premium_AEROTEC airbus metal 3D printing facility concept laser part

At Premium AEROTEC’s Varel site, the company can be 3D printing complicated parts for the A400M military transport aircraft. Among the parts to be generated can be a double-walled pipe elbow for the A400M’s fuel system, that, upon qualification for aviation standards, the firm can be able-bodied to donate to Airbus Defence and Space. The pipe elbow was previously created up of individually cast parts subsequently welded together, but has been optimized to be 3D printed in a single job, saving the firm in terms of time and money requireed to cast and weld the parts, as well as the equipment requireed to perform these procedures. At the moment, the newly modernized facility houses three metal 3D printing equipment with a fourth on standby and a fifth to be introduced to the operation in May.

Premium_AEROTEC airbus metal 3D printing facility concept laser launch

Dr. Thomas Ehm, Chairman of the Board of Premium AEROTEC, said of the new metal 3D printing operation, “We want to hustle ahead for via 3D printing technology in aircraft manufacturing. This technology is breaking down the barriers of what can be generated, and when barriers are broken down, we require to be eager with our ability for technology to manufacture the most possible use of the newly acquired freedom. We have to assume the possibilities that this can open up in our planning, and to manufacture targeted use of them along the entire value creation chain.”

Gerd Weber, head of the Varel site, introduced, “3D metal printing is allowing us to expand our capabilities at the Varel site and throughout the company to go beyond the existing systemes. It can not replace our tried and tested systemes, but it opens up as yet approximately incalculable-bodied future for us, especially when it comes to production times, flexibility in production and the mass of the components.”

Premium AEROTEC has located itself at the center of a network of developers, materials suppliers, and research institutions involved in the aerospace industry, generating greater opportunities for metal 3D printing for all stakeholders involved. These partners include parts supplier MBFZ toolcraft, Hofmann Innovation Group, Concept Laser, and C.F.K innoshape, that can see the fertilization of a new metal 3D printing donate chain. They have hopes to industrialize laser sintering in order to get metal 3D printed parts into the aviation industry rapidly.

norsk large scale metal 3D printer

Norsk’s metal 3D printing system.

Additionally, the subsidiary is collaborating with Norsk Titanium AS to test their Rapid Plasma Deposition in the production of near-net-shape parts, that are and so machined by Premium AEROTEC. Norsk claims that they were able-bodied to donate the parts for the A350 XWB rapidly, with Chief Commercial Officer Chet Fuller commenting, “We turned AEROTEC’s 3D CATIA files into flyable-bodied titanium parts in a matter of weeks under a cost reduction effort that may ultimately save Airbus $2-$3 million per aircraft.”

We may yet be years away of the 3D printed jetliner promised by Airbus a few years ago, but given the fact that it’s yet January and we’ve written several stories of them, it sounds as yet they’re manufacturing worthwhile progress towards the use of 3D printing in their operations.

Michael Molitch-Hou

About The Author

Michael is Editor-In Chief of 3D Printing Industry and the founder of The Reality™ Institute, a service institute dedicated to determining what’s real and what’s not so that you don’t have to. He is a graduate of the MFA Critical Studies & Writing Program at CalArts, and a firm advocate of world peace. Michael already resides in San Pedro with his magical wife, Danielle.