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Additive manufacturing (AM), which is popularly known as “3D Printing”, has enjoyed immense popularity with hobbyists mainly till recent years. However, there has been a great shift towards designing and developing functional components for numerous industries, which also includes the aviation industry. This technology uses metals, ceramics, polymers, concrete, etc. to form complex shapes based on a digital image fed into the machine. As compared to conventional milling methods which require removing pieces from a block of raw material to give shape to a model, 3D printing actually adds successive layers of the raw material in a powdered form to create the required model.
In this article, we shall take a quick look at how additive manufacturing helps aerospace industry and find the best application of 3D printing in aerospace industry.
How useful is additive manufacturing?
Additive manufacturing is incredibly flexible. It can adapt to almost anything which filaments of the raw material can create. You can use this technique to easily create three dimensional components with extremely complex design. This makes 3D printing excellent for rapid prototyping for many industries, including aviation, defense and the automotive industry among others.
Thus, we can safely conclude that 3D printing is the most efficient and latest prototyping method for components. For instance, some of the best application of 3D printing in aerospace industry includes crafting full-scale models of functional components, such as gear reductions, sun drives and circuit boards too. This technique is extremely efficient to create models with accurate specifications.
What are some of the best application of 3D printing in aerospace industry?
Additive manufacturing in aerospace industry is approaching its pick. A report from 2015 shows that the aerospace and defense (A&D) industries added more than 15% of almost US$ 5 billion in revenue thanks to additive manufacturing. The aerospace industry has been actively experimenting with 3D printing technology for over 30 years now and has installed additive manufactured components in various defense and offense systems, including satellites, rockets and missiles.
Additive manufacturing is extremely effective for rapid prototyping in aviation. Normally, creating a mold for a new components and then making numerous changes to it till you reach perfection, requires enormous amount of time and effort. In contrast, using additive manufacturing in aerospace industry for rapid prototyping has proven incredibly efficient. For instance, 3D printing helps to design and develop prototypes at a significantly faster pace, without the need for post-process finishing and uses eco-friendly and durable material. This makes the entire prototyping process extremely quick and efficient as compared to conventional prototyping methods.
What is the potential for additive manufacturing in aerospace industry?
The 3D printing process is significantly superior to conventional CNC milling technique, especially when it comes to rapid prototyping. This technique allows you to create a large component, from scratch, as a single unit instead of the usual smaller parts that later need to be assembled in post-production.
To achieve optimal efficiency in prototyping and component manufacturing, the aerospace industry is trying to find new and innovative ways to use additive manufacturing.