Additive manufacturing is more than just 3D printing. The process includes machining and heat-treating the component. Manufacturing steps are also simplified compared to conventional methods
Fremont, CA: The aerospace industry has been utilizing additive manufacturing (AM) for various applications. Whether it is aircraft and helicopter parts or engines and turbines, 3D technologies help save time and money to create robust, more efficient components. AM has enhanced part performance, reduced weight, and has helped to remove design and production limitations.
Additive Manufacturing versus Conventional Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing is more than just 3D printing. The process includes machining and heat-treating the component. Manufacturing steps are also simplified compared to conventional methods. However, this adds some complications regarding certification. The process can be harder to control, as so many steps happen simultaneously.
As the case in conventional manufacturing, the performance of various steps is common since constraints at each step are more limiting. A design engineer that knows forging, casting and machining can create a part model that the facility can reproduce it. But design needs more collaboration with manufacturers to come up with a design that is both efficient to produce as well as meets the required quality standards.
The Future of Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing has primarily been limited to uncritical parts like ductwork and interior components. But AM is expected to play a more significant role in aircraft in the near future. The first AM titanium structural component, a door latch fitting, has recently been installed on commercial aircraft. With the advancement of technology, manufacturers would be capable of transitioning other structural parts to AM and developing new structural parts by leveraging 3D printing processes.