BigRep and Etihad to define aerospace additive manufacturing roadmap

Large scale industrial additive manufacturing 3D printer provider BigRep is teaming up with Etihad Airways Engineering to develop an additive manufacturing roadmap for the aerospace industry.

The plan will focus on ways to develop 3D printing processes and standards for the production of aircraft interiors.

Bernard Randerath, Vice President of Engineering, Design & Innovation at Etihad Airways Engineering, comments, “Etihad Airways Engineering and BigRep share a vision to bring the 3D-printed cabin into production, together with our partners,”

“Our goal is to enable 3D-printing technologies for cabin parts – be it on new aircraft programmes or for retrofit installations – to serve our airline customers with innovative and smart solutions.”

The next generation of aircraft interiors

3D printing giant and producer of Airbus-standardized ULTEM material Stratasys has been making significant headway in the aerospace field in recent years.

In addition to collaboration with Airbus, the company has signed an MoU and entered a Joint Venture Agreement with aircraft maintenance company SIA Engineering in Singapore.

Not to be outdone by the competition, American multinational aerospace company Boeing has also demonstrated a significant investment to advance the adoption of 3D printing, particularly in the field of metal AM.

Meanwhile, Etihad Airways has signalled its 3D printed interior development through collaboration with Strata Manufacturing and Siemens, producing plastic television surrounds for installation on the back of seats.

By working with BigRep, the flag carrier and second-largest airline of the UAE plans to significantly expand its aircraft interior part catalog.

Etihad Airways seating with monitor placements that can now be replaced by 3D printed parts. Photo by Konstantin Von Wedelstaedt
In collaboration with Strata Manufacturing and Siemens, Etihad Airways 3D printed TV surrounds for use on the back of its airline seats. Photo by Konstantin Von Wedelstaedt

Critical material development

Etihad Airways Engineering will contribute innovative design for additive manufactuirng (DfAM) concepts and its experience in aircraft cabin lifecycle management to the working relationship. In turn, BigRep will apply its industrial 3D printing hardware, software, materials and services expertise to help Etihad “step towards becoming the global leader in the digital manufacturing market.”

The lack of aerospace-grade, 3D printable polymers has been identified as a critical area for development by the partners. Accordingly, the collabortive will work together to meet EASA and FAA specifications.

BigRep’s partnership with German chemical giant BASF is likely to play an important part in materials development.

Stephan Beyer, interim CEO & CFO of BigRep GmbH, asserts that Etihad Airways Engineering is “the perfect fit” for mapping 3D printing in the aviation industry.  In addition, Beyer comments;

“We believe that we offer the best additive manufacturing solutions today with our BigRep equipment, but to unfold the full potential of our technology for the aerospace sector, we have to jointly certify new aviation materials and establish specific AM design and engineering guidelines in parallel.”

The BigRep ONE. Photo by Michael Petch.
The BigRep ONE. Photo by Michael Petch.

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Featured image shows the BigRep one FFF 3D printer with a capacity of one cubic meter. Photo via BigRep