EASA-FAA hold joint expert workshop on additive manufacturing for aviation

Second annual meeting takes place in Europe

As certification provider TUV SUD explained in a recent interview with 3dpbm, regulators want to make regulations as accessible as possible. In response to the aviation industry’s requests for AM parts, regulators EASA and FAA have been increasingly working together. On November 6th and 7th 2019, the two agencies host the second annual joint aviation EASA-FAA AM workshop event (the previous event was hosted by FAA in Wichita in 2018).

Driven by the recent rapid expansion in industry interest, EASA, the European aviation regulator, has been working, in conjunction with the industry and other regulators, to find the most efficient means by which future regulation of the technology and its applications can be achieved.

Noting that AM is being developed by many global organizations, supported by globally dispersed workforces, it is becoming increasingly important for these workforces to have periodic face-to-face access to such events around the world. FAA and EASA are alternating a day and a half of ‘Generic Presentation Sessions’ (with a typical conference format) with parallel ‘Working Group Sessions’ (workshop format) during the planned 3 day Event.

One working group theme is focusing on machine and material qualification (IQ, OQ). The assumption here is that standardization of the qualification of AM machine and relative materials would benefit both system OEMs and part producers (type certificate and service bureaus). Installation qualification (IQ) tasks include initial calibration and builds used for site acceptance testing (SAT); Operational qualification (OQ) tasks to show process control for identifying statistically consistent material performance (metallurgical, mechanical, and physical properties). The discussion focuses on aspects of IQ and OQ that can be standardized.

The second working group is on Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM). Starting from the now widely accepted concept that one of the potential benefits of using AM is the optimization of designs, resulting in complex geometries, the discussion asks whether this understanding is sufficient to ensure that such design optimization does not reduce existing acceptable levels of safety. In this case, a greater understanding of AM can interface with confidence levels in other design activities which define the product, for example, global and local design tools, complex product testing strategies, use of test/analysis pyramids, in-service inspection needs and capabilities.

Another working group focuses on the third key topic in aviation AM; part testing: F&DT for AM (including NDI considerations). Product safety and commercial viability rely upon meeting the commercial design and engineering requirement targets, (static and dynamic fatigue, crashworthiness) throughout its operational life.  This can only be achieved through understanding the sensitivity of the product to fatigue, manufacturing defects, the environment, and accidental damage. The group discusses how can this be achieved for technology with critical engineering properties, including damage tolerance and fatigue capabilities, that are dependent upon very closely linked design and production activities. The issue is particularly relevant as some damaged modes may be difficult to detect and the population of material/manufacturing anomalies are not yet fully characterized. The need to address these issues is further enhanced by the near-term introduction of high-criticality AM parts in civil aviation production.

In general, it emerges from the level of meetings that significant progress has taken place in aviation AM in the past two years alone, as 3dpbm has highlighted from the latest segment-specific market reports and aviation industry exhibit reportages. The increasing number of flying parts shows that full part production in civil aviation is at hand. Very significant challenges remain, form making machines more transparent to defining a faster path to certification. The key is a collaboration between this segment’s stakeholders and it seems to be exactly what is happening.

Davide Sher

Since 2002, I have built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, I spent 12 years in the United States, where I received my Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree. As a journalist covering the tech industry - especially the videogame industry - for over 10 years, I began covering the AM industry specifically in 2013, as blogger. In 2016 I co-founded London-based 3D Printing Business Media Ltd. (now 3dpbm) which operates in marketing, editorial, and market analysis & consultancy services for the additive manufacturing industry. 3dpbm publishes 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies related to 3DP, and leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore. I am also a Senior Analyst for leading US-based firm SmarTech Analysis focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets.

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