Aerospace company Diehl Aviation has delivered the largest 3D printed part for a passenger aircraft to Qatar Airways. The 3D printed part in question is the Curtain Comfort Header, an enclosure for the curtain rail that separates seating classes, which can measure up to 1140 x 720 x 240 mm.
The part was 3D printed using FDM technology and is installed aboard the A350 XWB. Developed in close collaboration with Airbus, the Curtain Comfort Header component reportedly only took 12 months to develop, from first conception to delivery of the first end-use model. Qatar Airways, which operates a range of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, is the first airline to put the passenger aircraft part to use.
Before the adoption of 3D printing, the comfort header system was made using a laminated fiberglass layering process, which required a specialized and complex aluminum tool. This more traditional process meant that adding new functions to the component was challenging and required resourcefulness. For instance, Diehl Aviation says it previously had to integrate cable channels through emergency escape route signage and create specialized retaining clips.
Thanks to 3D printing, however, the part has been streamlined significantly. Now, the Curtain Comfort Header consists of 12 3D printed components which can simply be glued together to assemble. The need for complex aluminum tools is no longer necessary.
Because of the benefits that 3D printing has presented for this particular component, Diehl Aviation says it will fully transition the production of the component for the A350 XWB aircraft to 3D printing. It adds that the new version of the curtain rail enclosure is easier to redesign if necessary and can easily be removed for repairs or replaced. This flexibility will result in shorter down time between repairs.
Another notable benefit of the 3D printed component is that it can be adapted and customized for retrofit solutions. Further, the smart design built into the enclosure adds a noise dampening function, making the cabin environment more integrated and pleasant.
The 3D printed Curtain Comfort Header—the largest 3D printed part currently installed on a passenger aircraft—has been certified by EASA and will be on display at the upcoming Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany.