Norsk Titanium delivered new Boeing 787 Dreamliner components to Leonardo’s Grottaglie Plant, based in South Italy and part of Leonardo’s Aerostructures Division. Norsk is a Norwegian-American firm providing additive manufacturing of aerospace-grade titanium components (using proprietary RPD technology).
This delivery adds a third production customer to Norsk’s growing commercial aerostructures customer base and represents Norsk’s first recurring production order from a European Union based Aerospace company.
“We are pleased to be Leonardo’s supplier,” said Karl Fossum, director of customer programs for Norsk. “This delivery marks a significant increase in the number of additively manufactured parts previously manufactured from titanium plate. It also is an important step towards our mission to provide an alternative to titanium forgings in aerospace applications.”
Using Norsk’s Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) process, Norsk engineers designed Ti-6Al-4V preforms that reduced raw material needs by over 40 percent. Leveraging the RPD industrial process enabled Norsk to create a near-net-shape design while maintaining the stringent process control and material properties needed for structural applications in Boeing aircraft.
In 2018, Norsk Titanium has initiated qualification for additively manufactured titanium structural components for the Boeing 787 aircraft through an ongoing partnership with Spirit AeroSystems. The qualification process validated Norsk Titanium’s production and industrialization processes while integrating Spirit’s workscope of machining additively manufactured near-net shape components. The qualification sought to verify the aircraft parts’ material properties and overall conformity to requirements.
Leonardo does not share many details of its AM operations with the public however 3dpbm is aware of the company’s intensive testing on the industrialization of metal 3D printed parts within its helicopter production lines. At the Grottaglie site, Leonardo’s Aerostructures Division has also been testing filament extrusion additive technology in the production process for composite aerospace materials.
In this case, polymer 3D printing technology was implemented internally to replace traditional metallic molds with polymer-based elements (nylon carbon fiber and PEEK carbon fiber reinforced composites), reducing the cost and time factors involved in the test process and offering an increase in design flexibility. Leonardo was able to remove any porosity and surface wrinkles typically associated with items printed using fused filament fabrication technology – an essential factor also for maintaining a vacuum during the ‘curing’ stage of the process.