Before COVID-19 hit, the aerospace industry was flying and aerospace additive manufacturing had taken off. Short, medium and long-term perspectives were excellent and the entire aerospace industrial segment was jumping right AM for final part production. That all came to a virtual standstill for several months, as global aviation traffic collapsed and demand for new planes slowed dramatically.

However, the advantages of weight optimization for any object that leaves the ground are such that the benefits from topology optimization and generative, optimized lattice geometries, made possible by AM, remained clear. In addition, AM gradually emerged as a solution to address supply chain resiliency issues and enabled production flexibility both in terms of meeting smaller orders on-demand, without the need of building large inventories, and shifting to new production lines (for example medical supplies) as needed. Even space companies like Blue Origin were 3D printing PPE devices at the height of the COVID-19 supply chain crisis.

For just over a year a lot of the attention of aerospace additive manufacturing companies shifted towards new aerospace businesses, such as electric flight, new supersonic flight, VTOL‘s, personal fight devices, commercial aviation, drones, defense and especially space. Last year, 3dpbm’s AM focus on aerospace zoomed in specifically on the use of AM in these exciting segments of the aerospace industry. The use of AM in Space, in particular, has really taken off, with several companies now trailing SpaceX and using AM to make the jump into orbit more accessible and affordable.

Now the commercial aviation industry seems set to take back its leading role both within the aerospace segment and in driving the evolution of additive manufacturing for final parts production. Important new opportunities continue to emerge in this area in both metal AM and polymer AM, used for metal replacement and composites. Advancements in CAD, CAE, CAM and PLM software are driving the need for AM in general and commercial aviation manufacturing. More optimized, complex shapes and the need for a more automated production process make AM ideal for a growing number of production requirements.

The new aerospace industry does not have to wait for new, higher speed AM technologies. The productivity offered by current polymer powder bed fusion and even thermoplastic filament extrusion systems – as well as metal powder bed fusion, directed energy deposition systems and soon metal binder jetting – is already enough to meet demand. And the extensive range of high-performance materials now supported by these technologies is an ideal fit for many advanced flying parts.

Follow us this month of June as we zoom in on the most interesting, relevant, profitable and beneficial applications of aerospace additive manufacturing.

  • Virgin Orbit selected by NASA to provide VADR launch services

    Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) was selected by NASA’s Launch Services Program to provide launch services for the agency’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated Rideshare (VADR) missions. The fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract will leverage commercial satellite launch practices, and together with the flexibility afforded by Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system enables more efficient launch…

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  • Rocket Lab to provide Venture Class launch services for NASA

    Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB), a leading launch services provider and space systems company, has been selected by NASA as one of twelve companies to provide launch services for the agency’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) missions. The deal will provide new opportunities for science and technology…

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  • Boom Supersonic to build an Overture Superfactory

    Boom Supersonic, a company we have covered extensively for its heavy adoption of AM in the XB1 and Overture jet production workflows, is ready to build the new Overture Superfactory, to be located at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, North Carolina, The company’s first full-scale manufacturing facility, a state-of-the-art…

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  • 9T Labs to showcase composites AM aerospace capabilities at JEC World

    9T Labs, specialists in digital, automated, cost-competitive series production of continuous fiber components, will be demonstrating how lightweight carbon parts are ideal for cabin components of aircraft, including structural components such as brackets, harnesses, and sensor mounts, at JEC World 2022, now taking place in Paris from the 3rd to…

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  • Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) acquires customized EBAM 300

    Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has acquired a customized EBAM 300 Series electron beam additive manufacturing system, from Sciaky, a subsidiary of Phillips Service Industries, Inc. (PSI) and a leading supplier of industrial metal 3D printing solutions. The contract between TAI and Sciaky also includes collaboration on a series of projects…

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  • MIMO Technik qualifies AM process for Boeing using multiple SLM 500

    SLM Solutions and MIMO Technik jointly qualified additive manufacturing for parts and processes for the aerospace industry. Using SLM machine technology, MIMO Technik has successfully met the material spec performance for ALSi10Mg aluminum powder for Boeing and has done so at increased productivity rates, increasing the value proposition for AM…

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  • Lamborghini launches 3D printed Space Key to access exclusive NFT

    Always ready to experiment with new design, manufacturing and marketing possibilities, Automobili Lamborghini has entered the world of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) with an artwork accessible via the Lamborghini Space Key. This exclusive project, developed with a still-undisclosed artist, combines many of the most advanced technologies, including 3D printing. The distinguishing…

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  • Boeing welcomes third group of startups to UK-based accelerator

    Boeing is welcoming 10 new companies to join the third cohort of Aerospace Xelerated, its UK-based startup accelerator whose first two groups have gone on to raise more than £50 million in additional funding and create more than 100 jobs across the country. Startups using artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous…

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  • Caracol becomes first LFAM company in Italy with AS/EN 9100 certification

    Caracol welcomes 2022 with great news: SAI Global has certified Caracol and its Robotic Large Scale Additive Manufacturing process for the production of aerospace parts, with the globally recognized AS/EN 9100:2018 standard. Following several years of joint research with aerospace OEMs and Tier 1 companies, Caracol had the opportunity of…

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  • California space company orders two NXG Xll 600s from SLM Solutions

    A leading California-based rocket company had ordered two NXG Xll 600s from SLM Solutions Group AG. The giant 12-laser systems are seen a means to make space missions more affordable and efficient by creating lighter, faster, and more robust space components. As space companies battle with unprecedented demand to get…

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