For 3D printing systems master Stratasys, the key to getting customers airborne is getting them through the certification process. An Airbus A350 flies with about 1,000 parts printed from Stratasys materials – but as product leader and vice president Jim Orrock puts it, while smaller companies like aircraft interiors suppliers could also enjoy the speed and flexibility of additive-layer manufacturing, the design and certification process can be an obstacle.
So Stratasys has worked out a system for combining design, materials and print machine options to take clients from concept to EASA or FAA certification. By working with a ready-made set of “design allowables” built on a database of proven characteristics – rather than taking on the challenge from scratch – the Stratasys system can save an aircraft interior parts maker “a year and a million dollars” in the concept to certificated part process.
This “revolution” in practical 3D printing is, says Orrock, the “easy way” to certification.
The company’s Ultem 9085 plastic is well-known to makers of cabin parts, and Stratasys showed an array of examples at AIX. It also used the opportunity of the show to display a new thermoplastic material, called Antero, with enough chemical resistance to make components exposed to fuels, lubricants and acids.