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3D Printing

Additive Manufacturing in the Automobile and Aerospace Industry.

| Author / Editor: Ahlam Rais / Janina Seit

Additive Manufacturing is the next big phenomenon in the manufacturing sector. This technology has numerous benefits and has been used extensively in the automobile and aerospace industry.

In the aerospace sector, 3D printing helps lower fuel consumption and minimises aircraft downtime as light-weight parts can be printed on-demand.
( Source: Pixabay / CC0 )

The global market for Additive Manufacturing is expected to reach 9.6 billion dollars by 2020, reports Global Industry Analysts , a data and analytics company. Additive Manufacturing, also called ‘3D printing’, is used across diverse sectors such as automobiles, aerospace and medicine. The process of printing a product into a solid object by building up numerous layers of material on it is considered a boon for industry users. The innovative technology is used to create models, functional prototypes and even production tools.

Advantages of the Additive Manufacturing Industry

Additive Manufacturing has numerous plus points such as the produced parts are light in weight, it is a cost effective procedure, provides quick solutions for design and concept validation due to which wastage is minimised in the final product, and proves useful to create products with complex or intricate geometries which cannot be produced with traditional methods. However, Additive Manufacturing is feasible for batch production and not mass production.

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Additive Manufacturing – Live Examples

Numerous organisations are using this technology and their results are stunning! For instance, the car manufacturing giant, Ford is printing 200,000 parts each year on 14 different industrial 3D printers at its Michigan facility in the USA. The company’s 500,000th 3D printed auto part was a prototype engine cover for the all new Ford Mustang. According to the company’s website, with traditional methods, an engineer would create a computer model of an intake manifold—the most complicated engine part—and wait about four months for one prototype at a cost of 500,000 dollars. With 3D printing Ford can print the same print in four days including multiple iterations and with no tooling limits at a cost of 3,000 dollars.

The company is also producing large-scale one-piece auto parts such as spoilers for prototyping and manufacturing vehicles for the future. A 3D-printed spoiler weighs less than half its cast metal counterpart. Ford also plans to use 3D printing to make larger tooling and fixtures, along with personalized car components.

In the aerospace sector, 3D printing helps lower fuel consumption and minimises aircraft downtime as light-weight parts can be printed on-demand. Aircraft manufacturer, Airbus has produced more than 1,000 flight parts for its A350 XWB aircraft. The 3D printed parts were used in place of traditionally manufactured parts to increase supply chain flexibility, enabling Airbus to meet its delivery commitment on time. More recently, Airbus installed a 3D-printed titanium bracket on its series production commercial aircraft, the A350 XWB.

Transforming the Manufacturing Sector

Industry players have termed ‘Additive Manufacturing’ as the next big phenomenon in the manufacturing sector. However, there are a few who are worried that the new technology will replace the traditional way of working. However, industry experts state that Additive Manufacturing will complement, provide an extension to traditional metalworking and enhance productivity.

Various developments are taking place in this segment and many corporations are working on techniques to provide their customers with a better experience. METAV 2018 is one such event where the latest happenings of this technology can be explored. The show has a dedicated area for Additive Manufacturing as visitors are keen to know more about this technology. The trade fair is scheduled to be held from February 20–24, 2018 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

This article was first published by MaschinenMarkt International.

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Lewis Lab/Harvard Seas; Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S; Anne Richter, SMM; Pixabay; Zare; Deposit Photos ; Hajas; MM MaschinenMarkt / Thomas Klink; Alfred-Wegener-Institut; Grenzebach; Brembo; GF Casting Solutions