I-90 Conference: Additive manufacturing is about to change everything

By Bryan Corliss

June 5, 2019, © Leeham News, Coeur d’Alene (ID) — Within a decade, 3-D printing will begin to revolutionize the way companies fabricate and assemble aircraft–and just about everything else humans manufacture.

That was the message delivered by panelists at the I-90 Aerospace Corridor Conference & Expo.

The conference, for aerospace companies in eastern Oregon and Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana, was held May 27-28 in Coeur d’Alene (ID).

Companies are experimenting with the current generation of the technology now, said David Minerath, the president of Quest Integration, based in Post Falls (ID), whose company sells 3-D modeling and printing technology to manufacturers.

“We do have a lot of printers at aerospace companies, but they’re very sensitive about where these parts are going,” Minerath said.

Costs are coming down, he said. With units costing as little as $2,000 apiece, it’s possible for companies to stack five together in a room running parts.

“You’re getting close to low-rate production,” Minerath said.

And it’s easy, he said. “It’s like you’re doing ‘file, print’ to your laser printer.”

  • “Additive” technology literally the opposite of current process
  • Idaho company has patents on fast-curing process
  • Will allow changes in how parts are produced and assembled

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Additive manufacturing: Huge potential, big barriers

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Introduction

Part 1 appears here.

By Dan Catchpole

August 27, 2018, © Leeham News: For all its potential, additive manufacturing faces significant hurdles before it can deliver on advocates’ assertions that the technology will revolutionize the aerospace industry.

United Technologies is counting on additive manufacturing, often called 3D printing, to help it develop and produce new components faster, better and cheaper. Paula Hay is leading the expansion of additive manufacturing at United Technologies Aerospace Systems (UTAS). In part two to last week’s interview with Hay, LNC talks to her about what problems have to be solved for additive manufacturing (AM) to make good on its potential.

Summary

  • Need more consistent materials and equipment.
  • OEMs and regulators have to develop AM standards.
  • Design culture has to evolve to reflect AM capabilities.

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UTC Aerospace Systems sees big benefits from additive manufacturing

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Introduction

By Dan Catchpole

August 20, 2018, © Leeham News: There is a fundamental tension in aerospace’s DNA.

UTC Aerospace Systems’ executive Paula Hay is leading the aerospace supplier’s adoption of additive manufacturing. (Image via LinkedIn)

It has been there since Kitty Hawk: Balancing the hunger to push technological boundaries with the desire to stay safe.

The Wright Flyer only flew after years of painstakingly testing airframes and engines. That tension between being bold and being safe is evident today in commercial aerospace’s adoption of additive manufacturing.

Just about every major player in the aerospace industry is exploring additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Most of the integration has been at the margins. The technology is still young enough that there is no clear leader in its application to aerospace. Everyone is trying to find how to get the most from it.

Summary

  • Begin with mechanical, not structural systems.
  • Big parts reductions.
  • Big reduction in lead time.

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