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The aerospace 3D printing market is expected to be driven by rising demand for lightweight 3D printed parts for aircraft engines that help enhance performance. North America, Europe and Asia are likely to be key markets.
Several leading companies are engaged in developing advanced solutions. For example, in 2021, Hexagon's Manufacturing Intelligence division announced a novel solution with Stratasys to help manufacturers in the aerospace sector increase confidence in the performance and safety of 3D printed plastic pieces and compress time to market. Through the virtual engineering and manufacturing support offered by the partnership, customers would be able to decrease a two-to-three-year timescale of designing and testing a part to six-to-nine months. Through the partnership, users of Stratasys' ULTEM™ 9085 filament could use Hexagon's Digimat material modelling software to predict how printed parts would perform.
In 2022, Stratasys and GE Aviation business Avio Aero unveiled initiatives that could see their respective technologies deployed within brand new aerospace applications. For Stratasys, the release of qualification data behind the use of Antero 840CN03 polymer on the Orion spacecraft could help foster the development of a model for using the material in similar scenarios. Avio Aero, on the other hand, had witnessed its partially-3D printed Catalyst engine selected by Airbus to propel its ‘Eurodrone,’ a UAV designed to perform European surveillance missions.
In 2022, Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jodhpur, indigenously developed a metal 3D printer for aerospace, defence and general engineering applications. All components of the metal 3D printer, except the laser and robot systems, were reported to be designed and manufactured in India. The project's main objective was to decrease the cost of metal 3D printers and attract a broader range of users.
In 2022, Boeing and Titomic entered into a partnership to expand the use of Titanium in the aerospace industry. With the help of a $2.325 million grant from the Australian government, Boeing and Titomic seek to investigate the use of sustainable titanium powders in 3D printing processes. These materials would be employed in the manufacturing of components for space vehicles and satellites.
In 2022, a load-bearing, metal 3D printed A-Link spare part was approved by EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency); it marked the first load-bearing, metallic spare part from the 3D printer approved for aerospace use; Lufthansa Technik and Premium AEROTEC reached a key milestone in additive manufacturing (AM). The titanium made A-Links could be exposed to temperatures of up to 300 degrees Celsius. The novel manufacturing solution developed by Premium AEROTEC and Lufthansa Technik, was built layer by layer through Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF). This offered the advantage over forging that no jigs or moulds were needed for production. The process could save valuable material, since after 3D printing, material removal was only necessary to a very small extent on some functional surfaces.
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