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5 benefits of 3D Printing for Aerospace design and manufacturing

Posted by Geoff Haines on 18-Dec-2015 15:00:00

3D printing for aerospace design and manufacturingAs consumer air travel increases, the demand for new aircraft to keep up has led to orders of nearly 38,000 new aircraft over the next 20 years. The problem is that OEM’s and suppliers are struggling with finding cost-effective ways to produce these aircraft as quickly as possible. But that’s where 3D printing comes in.

3D printing allows aerospace designers and manufacturers to create a variety of aircraft parts with complex geometries, cost effectively and quickly. So here’s some of the benefits of 3D printing for aircraft production.

1) Reduced production of waste

Traditional manufacturing methods such as milling often lead to the production of significant amounts of waste material. Yet 3D printing uses less energy and is able to significantly reduce the amount of waste produced based on its method of developing parts layer by layer.

The benefit here is that materials are being used more effectively and efficiently, helping you to save money on purchasing of materials.

2) Speed of production

3D printing is able to produce parts significantly quicker than traditional manufacturing methods, and is able to produce parts from CAD designs within a matter of hours.

This can help OEM’s to increase the speed at which aircraft can be produced and brought to market, enabling you to outpace the competition. The increased speed of time to market also achieves cost savings in the form of lower inventory costs. Rather than having to endure high inventory costs, suppliers can produce the parts much quicker, as and when they are needed.

3) Shape complexity

With 3D printing, designers are able to produce highly complex designs that can be produced into a single part, avoiding the need to produce and assemble a series of smaller parts. 

This can also be achieved through using 3D printing in the production of tooling. Using 3D printing in tooling fabrication allows you create complex tooling designs that can be used to create more customized end products. And with less waste produced, the entire process is more cost efficient compared to traditional manufacturing.

4) Supply chain efficiency 

And as 3D printing produces single parts rather than multiple parts that need to be assembled, this helps you to simplify the supply chain.

By removing unnecessary assembly steps in the supply chain, this helps to cut labour and tooling costs and speeds up the production process, increasing time to market.

5) Environmentally friendly

The fact that 3D printing requires less energy than traditional manufacturing methods combined with the production of less waste also means that this process is much more environmentally friendly.

And as parts can be printed within a matter of hours, parts can be printed on-site removing the need for transportation, which is much more environmentally friendly and helps to reduce costs.

So there you have it. 5 benefits of 3D printing for aerospace design and manufacturing are;

  • Reduced production of waste – the method of building up rather than grounding down helps to ensure efficiency in the use of materials
  • Speed of production – 3D printing allows you to produce parts in hours, reducing the costs of inventory storage as parts can be produced when required
  • Shape complexity – 3D printing enables designers to develop more complex designs, which can also be achieved through using 3D printing in the tooling fabrication process
  • Supply chain efficiency – as parts can be created into a single component, this removes the need for the assembly of multiple components, reducing labour costs
  • Environmentally friendly – 3D printing requires less energy and produces less waste, making it more environmentally friendly than traditional manufacturing methods.

And you can achieve these benefits through CATIA’s approach to 3D printing. CATIA is part of Dassault Systèmes’ 3DExperience platform, and is able to export 3D models in an STL file format to print 3D parts.

For more information about how you can improve your approach to aerospace design and manufacturing, download the eBook ‘Aerospace Supply Chain: Real world strategies for surviving and handling growth’.

Download the Aerospace Supply Chain eBook

Topics: Aerospace