ProtoCAM: Additive Manufacturing, 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping.

Additive Manufacturing in the Aerospace Industry

August 15, 2016


Ask ProtoMAN: What’s a top reason the Aerospace industry has adopted Additive Manufacturing?

The aerospace industry is leading the charge into Additive Manufacturing, and there’s one good reason why:

When you’re launching million dollar objects into the sky, every gram of weight counts.

The benefits of cost and time savings from AM are widely recognized across multiple industries, but weight savings is a key reason why aerospace has established such a strong foothold as an early and extensive adopter.

Fact: Aerospace accounts for more than 10% of the $2.2 billion global additive manufacturing revenue.

Here are a few reasons AM can reduce component weight for aerospace applications:

  • Allows for experimentation: the low cost and minimal time required in setup affords manufacturers the flexibility to test and experiment with designs having higher strength-to-weight ratios
  • Part consolidation: as has been seen in multiple examples, what used to require multiple pieces with various welds can now be performed in one weight-saving piece
  • Makes high-tech materials affordable: AM technology allows manufacturers to scrap less than 10 percent of expensive material, such as titanium, compared to subtractive processes that waste up to 90 percent of material

Aerospace companies are maximizing these benefits especially with non-flight critical and non-structural parts. Commercial jet manufacturer Airbus claims to have more than 1000 printed parts on its A350 XWB aircraft.

Because weight is often such a critical factor in aviation and spaceflight projects, AM processes such as selective laser sintering (SLS), which can produce very thin walls and complex designs, is an attractive solution for replacing parts traditionally produced using processes such as rotational, injection, or polymer matrix composite molding.

It’s clear why weight savings is a sought after factor:

“Removing just one pound of weight from each aircraft in American’s fleet would save more than 11,000 gallons of fuel annually” According to recent American Airlines data

Interested in finding out how ProtoCAM Additive Manufacturing can offer weight-savings to your next project? Please send us your info for a consultation.