In a fascinating move, the aerospace industry have been looking to 3D printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing. What has typically required welding together 20 parts, for instance, can now require the use of printing just one. Many industry giants like Lockheed Martin and Honeywell are using additively manufactured components into their designs. GE Aviation has recently invested $70 million in their Auburn, Alabama factory to make 3D printed fuel nozzles for their LEAP jet engine.
As Greg Morris, who is leading the additive manufacturing team for GE Aviation in Cincinnati Ohio explained to Business Insider about their situation, “We get five times the durability. We have a lighter-weight fuel nozzle. And we frankly have a fuel nozzle that operates in an environment more effectively and more efficiently than previous fuel nozzles.”
As a leading expert in the aerospace industry, Elio Moti Sonnenfeld, explained, “These technologies are transforming what we have always known was possible and making the impossible seem possible.”
In another example, Belgian aerospace company Sonaca has accounted that they are creating a partnership with France based Fives-Michelin Additive Solutions (FMAS) to both develop and produce 3D printing titanium parts that would be used for the aerospace industry.
For this specific situation, the goal for Sonaca and FMAS is to combine Sonaca’s aerospace experience with the additive manufacturing skills that Fives-Michelin has. As Bernard Delvaux, the CEO of Sonaca said “We are extremely happy to work with Fives Michelin Additive Solutions. Their reputation in AM and the performance of their machines, backed up by several years of industrial practical application, is a remarkable asset.”
Experts in the aerospace industry have explained the impact of these partnerships. As Elio Moti Sonnenfeld explains, “With the ability to create certified 3D printed titanium aerospace parts, the companies hope that they can offer clients a location where they can design, manufacture, engineer and certify production parts.”
Additive manufacturing technologies have become a location of great interest for aerospace companies. Elio Moti Sonnenfeld explains that 3D printing can offer aerospace companies a way to produce end-use parts that is both cost effective and time efficient.
In total, additive manufacturing now represents a $3 billion slice of overall manufacturing output. Greg Morris is predicting that the number will soar as high as $100 billion in the coming years.