Materialise is now qualified by Airbus to manufacture flight-ready parts using laser sintering technology. The material used in the process, produced by EOS, is a flame-retardant polyamide (PA 2241 FR). With this development, Materialise and EOS become the first suppliers to be qualified by Airbus to produce laser sintered parts under the Airbus Process Specification AIPS 03-07-022. Materialise now offers two 3D printing technologies approved by Airbus for flight-ready parts.
The qualification is valid across Airbus and marks a significant milestone for the wider adoption of polymer 3D printing in aerospace. PA 2241 FR offers Airbus and its suppliers a cost-effective complement to the initially validated 3D printing material Ultem 9085, also used at Materialise. By bringing laser sintering on board, Airbus broadens its usage of 3D printing with the world’s second most commonly used 3D printing technology. In addition to the material PA 2241 FR, qualification also encompasses the respective processes for 3D printing the material on EOS systems. In particular, Materialise will leverage EOS systems including the EOS P 770 to manufacture PA 2241 FR parts for Airbus.
Bart Van der Schueren, Materialise CTO, commented: “This achievement consolidates our long-term partnership with Airbus, and it also opens up additional 3D printing applications to Airbus and its suppliers. Laser sintering is one of the most widely used 3D printing technologies and enables complex design features such as interlocking mechanisms. It’s an honor for Materialise to be Airbus’s first manufacturer for the technology.”
EOS PA 2241 FR, the newly qualified material, is a flame-retardant Polyamide12-based material that is used for processing in laser sintering systems. Due to its high refresh rate, PA 2241 FR enables cost-effective production while meeting the strict quality standards required of flight-ready parts. Typical aerospace applications include aircraft interior parts such as air ducts and brackets. The material is suitable for parts that must fulfill fire, smoke, and toxicity (FST) requirements, without the use of a primer and top coating.
Markus Glasser, Senior Vice President EMEA, EOS, said: “We are very proud that after an extensive testing program, Airbus qualified the EOS PA 2241 FR material and processes for usage globally by the company. It underlines the high maturity and constant quality of EOS’ powder and systems and continues to emphasize the relevance of industrial 3D printing in both polymers and metals.”
The qualification is an important milestone in the deployment of Polymer AM technologies in Airbus. Materialise began its journey with Airbus several years ago when FDM technology was introduced on the A350 system. This new capability will enable an increase of applications on commercial aircraft and, as well, on the products developed by the other Airbus Divisions.
Materialise currently prints around 100 different part numbers for the Airbus A350, totaling an estimated 26,000 parts per year across the A350 ecosystem. Additionally, the company is also set to supply parts for other Airbus aircraft platforms including the A320, A330, and A340. For this, EOS industrial 3D printing technology plays and will play a key role.