3D Printing service provider Materialise has been qualified by Airbus to produce flight-ready polymer components printed using EOS’s SLS printing technology. Materialise will now begin printing parts made of flame-retardant polyamide (PA) powder, PA 2241 FR. This is the European aerospace giant’s first dive into SLS 3D printing with Materialise and EOS becoming the first companies approved to 3D print parts under Airbus Process Specification AIPS 03-07-022. This qualification also means that these parts can be used across Airbus’s entire global business, so you can expect to see this printing technology used across the company’s numerous divisions. This is a huge step for additive manufacturing in the aerospace sector.
EOS’ PA12-based material is most notable for its flame-retardant properties and a very high refresh rate, making it extremely cost effective for printing flight-ready components as there are a number of strict fire standards. These parts can meet several fire, smoke and flame/toxicity requirements without the need for a secondary coat or primer. Typically 3D printed components are used internally for air ducts and brackets. This new material also marks a major milestone for polymer 3D printing as it is traditionally dominated by high-strength, high temperature metals.
The AIPS 03-07-022 qualification also includes the 3D printing process itself, developed for EOS systems such as the 770 polymer printer. With Airbus having already qualified Ultem 9085. For the FDM process, Materialise now supplies the aerospace company with 2 flight-ready 3d printing solutions.
Moving on, the CTO of Materialise, states, “This achievement consolidates our long-term partnership with Airbus, and it also opens up additional 3D printing applications to Airbus and its suppliers. Laser sintering is one of the most widely used 3D printing technologies and enables complex design features such as interlocking mechanisms. It’s an honor for Materialise to be Airbus’s first manufacturer for the technology.”
Materialize already has been printing components for Airbus over the past few years, starting with the A350 line of aircraft which uses around 100 different flight ready components or amounting to about 26,000 total parts printed annually. With this new qualification, Airbus is to print end use components for other aircraft in their lineup such as the A320, A330 and A340.
As we seem to keep stressing this week, additive manufacturing in the aerospace sector is a growing market that's seeing many different solutions from FDM/FFF, metal printing and technologies like SLS. Over here in the states, Boeing has previously qualified Stratasys’ PEKK based Antero 800NA filament for flight ready parts. We also previously covered Hexcel releasing an electrically conductive polymer based carbon fiber composite material specifically for aircraft 3D printing. Their HexPEKK EM was designed to meet the static electricity management, electromagnetic shielding and radiation absorption needs for flight ready components.
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