Earlier this year, Materialise announced that it had obtained EN9100 and EASA 21G certification, authorizing the Belgian firm to begin 3D printing end-use parts for use aboard airplanes. Today, the company has said that it is now ready to put that authorization to work, 3D printing plastic parts for Airbus’s A350 XWB. Not only does this demonstrate that one of the world’s largest 3D printing services has entered into the mainstream manufacturing supply chain, but that the A350 XWB has just become even more 3D printed.
As it stands, the A350 XWB will be flying the largest 3D printed part ever flown, a massive titanium front bearing housing for the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engine. Additionally, Stratasys has 3D printed over 1,000 parts for the same aircraft. Now, Materialise is adding its name to the list of companies carrying the plane of the ground in an effort to help Airbus achieve its goal of building the A350 XWB 25% lower fuel consumption. The aircraft will also be designed to meet high comfort standards for long-range flights, as it integrates “efficient state-of-the-art systems, which ensure reliability and lower maintenance requirements.”
Materialise Executive Vice President of Production, Bart Van der Schueren, said of the news, “Airbus understands and appreciates the benefits that 3D printing – or more appropriately in this case, Additive Manufacturing (AM) — can bring to the most modern widebody aircraft: the A350 XWB. In addition, with one of the most thorough test programmes developed for a jetliner, the use of AM end-use parts sends a strong signal about the reliability and quality that AM can deliver today.” He continued, “For 25 years, Materialise has been working to improve AM through an ever more sophisticated software offering, and a Factory for 3D Printing that manufactures parts that meet the needs of even the most demanding of industries, including the health care, automotive and aerospace sectors. As such, we are very proud to now be delivering end-use, flight-ready parts to Airbus.”
Additionally, the company has just released an update of their Magics software suite, Magics20. With this edition, Materialise introduces a new user interface with support for all current file formats, including .3MF from the Microsoft 3MF Consortium and voxels. The company suggests that Magics20 makes it even easier to manage metal AM systems and that it complements their other software packages, as well, which are used throughout the 3D printing industry.
Materialise Founder and CEO, Fried Vancraen, said of the new software update, “When I purchased my first stereolithography machine and started Materialise 25 years ago, the industry lacked the software needed to efficiently connect a design to a 3D Printer. In order to survive and thrive as a company, we needed to develop a solution that allowed us to meet customer demand for 3D printed prototypes, on time and as ordered. The resulting software worked so well that we brought it to the market as Magics. Over the years, Magics has helped lift the AM industry as a whole to new levels by optimizing data and build preparation for an expanding range of materials and technologies.”
Vancraen added, “Now, 25 years later, we face new challenges as our customers increasingly request 3D-printed, end-use parts that meet the demanding standards of their industries – and it is a challenge we have proven able to meet. And once again, Materialise is ready to raise the AM industry as a whole to new heights by granting access to a software backbone that enables certified manufacturing: Magics20.”
While the news of their software update may be overshadowed by their partnership with Airbus, both bits of information reflect the importance of Materialise as a service provider and software developer, maintaining the Belgian company as a major leader in the industry overall.