Friday, May 22, 2015

3D production printing

Here’s something I found interesting. Airbus used over 1000 parts printed on a 3D printer for its A350 XWB aircraft that shipped earlier this year. They used a Stratasys printer to make the parts in order to reduce production time and cost.

The process had been used previously to produce parts for military aircraft, but this the first time it has been used this broadly for a production commercial plane. There are strict airline safety standards that have to be met and these new processes require new testing procedures.

It’s a milestone, of course, but given that the typical commercial aircraft has over 2 million parts, these 1000 parts represent less than 0.2% of the parts no the plane.

3D printing is typically used more for prototyping and one-off projects than for production. I’ve been enjoying learning about 3D printers at home – I’m still in the tweaking and tuning phase, learning about the characteristics of the material, how to design for 3D printing, etc. - it’s a lot of fun.

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