Etihad Engineering, the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) division of the Etihad Aviation Group (the parent company of Etihad Airways), has opened a new additive manufacturing facility in Abu Dhabi. The lab will be used to make 3D printed aircraft parts and will leverage technology from manufacturing giant EOS.
This time last year, Etihad Engineering and EOS announced a partnership that would see EOS provide the MRO with a then-unspecified EOS polymer system. The opening of the new lab sees that partnership bearing fruit and the details of the polymer system released.
Installed at the Etihad Engineering facility near Abu Dhabi International Airport, the new 3D printing lab is equipped with an EOS P 396 powder bed printer (successor to the EOSINT P 395) that Etihad Engineering will use to create 3D printed aircraft cabin parts. The printer is capable of producing serial parts from polymers such as PA 2241 FR, and has a total build volume of 340 mm x 340 mm x 600 mm.
The modular system will allow the MRO to produce serial components, spare parts, functional prototypes and models directly from CAD data, and Etihad Engineering says the 3D printing of cabin parts will have the dual benefit of faster production cycles and reduced weight of parts.
More importantly, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will certify these parts, making Etihad Engineering the first MRO to receive EASA approval to design, produce and certify 3D printed cabin parts.
The printing system will also play a role in maintenance as well as production, since its short turnaround times will allow Etihad to fabricate required cabin parts during line maintenance and eliminate cabin defects.
“Being committed to high-quality solutions and constant technology innovation, Etihad and EOS share the same mindset,” said Markus Glasser, Senior Vice President, Export Region at EOS. “Together, we want to bring the design and production of aircraft interior parts to the next level.”
Glasser added that the 3D printing of cabin interior parts would offer a “substantial value-add” with regards to “optimized repair, lightweight design, shorter lead times and customization, as such addressing some of the key challenges of the aerospace industry.”
The opening of the 3D printing lab was marked by a ceremony attended by His Excellency Ernst Peter Fischer, German Ambassador to the UAE.