3D Printing Partnership Transforms Aerospace Aftermarket Supply Chains with 3D Printing
Materialise and Proponent have announced a partnership that will raise the profile of 3D printing in aerospace aftermarket supply chains. Proponent, headquartered in Brea, California, is an independent distributor of aircraft parts. Materialise, headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, is a global speacialist in 3D printing solutions.
Proponent provides traditional distribution services to airlines, MROs and OEMs, as well as innovative inventory management solutions. The company ships 54 million parts per year to over 6,000 aerospace customers in over 100 countries. The majority of parts serve the aftermarket, with applications spanning cabin interiors, engines, airframe and cockpits.
In the agreement signed at MRO Europe in Amsterdam, Materialise and Proponent set out to explore ways to help aerospace OEMs access the benefits of 3D printing, ultimately envisioning a digital supply chain enabling on-demand manufacturing. While 3D printing has so far been the domain of specialist engineering departments in aerospace companies, this development will bring it into the procurement domain and thus make it increasingly accessible for MROs to source 3D-printed parts.
Bart Van der Schueren, Materialise CTO, commented: “Open solutions and a collaborative approach have always been crucial to Materialise. Today we are excited to combine our capabilities as an EASA 21.G-certified production organization with Proponent’s reach and central position in the aerospace supply chain. This brings 3D printing technology right in the comfort zone of the aerospace industry’s well-established supply chains.”
With the partnership, Materialise and Proponent seek to partner with Aerospace OEMs and Suppliers to offer Airlines and MROs a one-stop-shop solution for aftermarket parts where 3D printing is featured alongside other manufacturing technologies.
Andrew Todhunter, Proponent CEO: “3D printing represents an opportunity to help our OEM and Supplier Partners to become more efficient in their supply chains and complements our stocking distribution model. Producing customized parts or small production runs through AM gives us an opportunity to source on-demand, sustainably, and avoid high minimum order quantities. Our customers get what they need, when they need it, and OEMs avoid the cost and risks that come with manufacturing these parts.”
Materialise manufactures 700 part series per year for diverse aerospace customers, from leading OEMs to MROs and supplier tiers. This includes an estimated 26,000 parts per year for the Airbus A350 system alone. Materialise is also currently the only supplier to offer manufacturing services in two 3D printing technologies approved by Airbus for flight-ready parts, since becoming Airbus’s first manufacturer for the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology in May this year.