Earlier this year 3D print service Materialise obtained certifications for producing airworthy parts.
Specifically, the certifications are EN9100 and EASA 21G, which enable the service to deliver airworthy end-use parts. In other words, you can order 3D printed production airframe parts.
This week the company announced they’ve been producing parts for the Airbus A350 XWB, a wide-body aircraft with notably wider seating for more comfortable long-haul flights. It’s noted as being the first Airbus with “both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer”, according to Wikipedia, and now it includes 3D printed parts, too.
The use of 3D printed parts in aircraft is not particularly new, but it’s likely much of the early usage was done “in-house” with equipment owned and operated by the aircraft manufacturer. Now we see aircraft parts produced by a service.
There are some implications: it may be that such a capability could enable smaller aircraft manufacturers to use more types of 3D printed parts in their airframes by leveraging Materialise’s 3D print service.
It’s quite likely even smaller manufacturers have been using 3D printing technologies as a means to assist their designs, and perhaps even as production parts, but having a service ready to deliver finished, certified parts in a wide variety of materials just makes things a lot easier.
Image Credit: Wikipedia