3D Systems announced its part in a $1.3 million contract to design, build and test an aircraft heat exchanger that is to be 3D printed.
The lead on the project is Honeywell International. They will be using 3D Systems’ Direct Metal Printing (DMP) technology and will also be teaming up with members of Penn State’s Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D). The goal is nothing short of revolutionizing jet engine manufacturing and design through additive manufacturing (AM). What it might also do is legitimize the introduction of AM technology to a multibillion-dollar heat exchanger market.
The project will begin in mid-2015 (no specific date was given) but it also expands on an announcement made in February, which encompasses an overall initiative to incorporate 3D Systems’ metal technologies within aerospace companies.
The contract was administered by America Makes and funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
“Additive manufacturing offers design freedoms that are simply not possible using a traditional manufacturing process,” said John Wilczynski, deputy director of technology development at America Makes. “The teaming by America Makes with industry leaders and researchers that possess substantial experience in heat exchangers and 3D printing will allow us to explore higher-performing and lower-cost conformal parts. As a result, both the Air Force and the defense industry are poised to benefit greatly from this directed project,” he said.
This is a major attempt and victory of validation for 3D Systems’ manufacturing capability and provides America Makes members (which include many U.S. defense and aerospace companies) with the data needed to evaluate the technology. All parties involved expect and hope that this project’s results will speed up validation of 3D Systems’ manufacturing capability, particularly as a new component of Honeywell’s supply chain.
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