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Next Steps For Using Additive Manufacturing For Repairs

Jul 15,2019

Amid all the excitement about the potential of additive manufacturing (AM) in the aftermarket, today¡¯s applications are often quite prosaic. Plastic air vents, window breather pipes and video-monitor shrouds are understandable starting points for MRO companies familiarizing themselves with the technology, but they are unlikely to persuade that 3D printing will transform the industry anytime soon.

Of course, much bigger developments are underway at aircraft and engine manufacturers, which are investing billions in AM and have already begun producing some metal components. Examples include fuel nozzles for the CFM Leap engine and a 1.5-m-wide (4.9-ft.) front-bearing housing for the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine.

In principle, the metal printing process is very similar to that used by MROs to produce plastic cabin parts, but metallic AM components can exhibit lower static and fatigue strengths than rolled billets of metal. Overcoming such challenges requires considerableinvestment and testing, which may keep the production of more advanced components outside the reach of airlines and MRO providers.

¡°The AM manufacturing methods, and to some degree the materials, lack the same degree of industry standardization that we now take for granted with metallic and composite laminated parts,¡± notes Victor Ho, AAR vice president for engineering. ¡°AAR has found part-to-part variability during structural tests of AM articles that were printed between similar machines.¡±

Instead of complex structural and metal components, the MRO community is more likely to focus its AM efforts on parts and tooling that are simpler to prototype, produce and certify. The other avenue for them to explore is additive repairs.

Depending on how one defines AM repairs, the technique is either in its infancy in aerospace or is building on decades of prior experience. Certain types of welding are a form of additive manufacturing, although the techniques commonly associated with fabricating components¡ªsuch as fusing or melting metal or plastic powders¡ªare still under development in the repair context.

With the development of aviation industry in China and the increase of the demand of civil aircraft, the demand of China's aviation materials industry is constantly released. Aviation materials and process technology are the two cornerstones of laying the manufacturing capacity of aviation industry, the biggest bottleneck restricting the development of China's civil aviation industry at present, and also one of the most extensive and potential core areas of China's aviation manufacturing industry chain towards a more open and mature process. The development of materials is of great significance to the development of aviation equipment. The aviation materials industry is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic areas for growth and investment opportunities. 

Under this background, 7th Annual China Aeronautical Materials and Process Summit 2019 which is an unmissable conference will be held on November 14th - 15th in the city of Beijing.


Register your interest or get in touch with marketing@galleon.cc for more details. 

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