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Sky is Not the Limit – Future of Aerospace Industry with 3D Printing Technology

February 11, 2020 | Aerospace & Defense

Remember the story of the first 59 seconds flight on the heavier-than-air aircraft by the Wright brothers back in 1903? The world has changed since the advent of various technological advancements. This is the age of 3D printing, a method used for making three-dimensional solid objects in order to form a digital file. Successful layers of material are laid down under the 3D printing process in order to create an object. The advent of 3D printing in various sectors such as manufacturing, automobile, aerospace, and others have helped the world evolve technologically in the past few years.

Among the first pioneers of 3D printing, the aviation industry is considered a parkway in the evolution of this technology, used for both prototyping, and manufacturing of end-use parts. The aerospace and defense (A& D) industry adopted 3D printing technology for serving various applications such as space technology, military aircraft, and commercial aerospace.

Aerospace and 3D Printing Market – Profit or Loss?

With the increasing number of passengers opting to travel by air, there is a rise in demand for more aircraft for traveling commercially and ultimately earn more profits with the rise in the production rate of aircraft worldwide. The surge in production of aircraft parts as per the increasing demand helps to save massive time, space and money.

At present, airlines use 3D printing for reducing the supply chain constraints, reduce waste materials, and limit the warehouse space as compared to that of traditional manufacturing procedures. Earlier, aircraft parts were manufactured by CNC or computer numeric control process where the materials were removed to create a part, whereas now, parts are created layer-by-layer wise right from the base. This allows the formation of streamlined designs and complex geometries with less complexity.

Increasing Demand for Lightweight Components from Aviation Industry to Increase Market Demand

An important factor promoting the market for aerospace 3D printing is the drastic reduction of manufacturing waste. This, coupled with the fact that the overall weight of the craft can be reduced is another crucial factor promoting the growth of 3D printing globally. The material made from 3D printing technology is capable of operating even in extreme temperatures. Large aircraft producing companies including Airbus and Boeing are accelerating the rate of adoption of 3D printing technology in order to reduce waste, shorten the supply chain, and achieve rapid production processes.

The process of manufacturing and software process of using 3D printing for producing aircraft parts is getting better by the day. Software like e-Stage for metal can customize and produce jig and drill fixture parts. As the designing requirements for such complex parts change rapidly, 3D printing can help to reduce both the time and cost of production. 3D printing in aerospace can help to reduce the expenditure of trial and errors and also help to create tools that will help companies pace up to the industrial standards.

Miles Conquered in 3D Printing for Aerospace, More to Go

Some of the recent developments in this field include:

  • 2019 – Airbus and Safran Group signed a contract worth USD 75.77 million for the supply chain of 3D printed aircraft parts.

  • 2019 - Nasa and Made in Space signed a contract worth USD 73.7 million in 2019 for the development of 3D printed large-scale space telescopes, communications antennae, and other complex structures.

  • 2019 –  Bond and Tribe Capital entered into a collaboration with Relativity Space and signed a contract worth USD 140 million for the launch of Terran 1 for revolving as the first entirely 3D printed rocket in the world.

  • 2019 – NASA and Virgin Orbit entered into a collaboration and signed contracts for the production of a 3D printed combustion chamber that rocket engines use.

Half-Achieved Miles –  Much More to Explore

Although the world of 3D printing is not yet explored and experimented completely, scientists are still investing their time in research and development of 3D printing. The coming few decades are yet to surprise us with the collaborative efforts of aerospace technology and 3D printing. Technological advancement must have raised the bars higher in the aviation sector and Wright brothers must be really proud of it.

Author’s Bio

Raginee Sarkar currently works as a content writer at Fortune Business Insights. She comes with extensive experience in writing advertising and marketing content, blogging, film scripting, and news reporting. She strongly believes in quality content and thus prefers to write in a simple, elegant, yet impactful way.

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