Premium Aerotec is planning to employ additive layer manufacturing technology – commonly known as 3D printing – for regular component production from 2016.
The German aerostructures specialist has installed manufacturing equipment for the 3D printing process. This can be for employed for the production of metallic components using “all relevant” metals, including aluminium, steel and titanium, the Augsburg-based Airbus Group subsidiary says.
A computer numerically controlled laser beam melts metal powder on defined tracks, and thus builds the component layer by layer.
The shorter production lead-times offered by the process are a key advantage over conventional manufacturing methods – such as milling and welding – where machinery needs to be specifically set up for the production of individual components.
Having evaluated additive layer manufacturing since 2010, Premium Aerotec plans to initially trial the system and start using it for serial component production in 2016.
The new technology will make fabrication of complex components more efficient and extend production possibilities beyond the limitations of conventional techniques. However, Premium Aerotec says additive layer manufacturing will complement rather than replace traditional metal-milling processes.