Aerospace

Spirit Aerosystems partners with Norsk Titanium to 3D print titanium aircraft parts

Aerospace manufacturer Spirit Aerosystems has announced a commercial partnership with Norsk Titanium for its proprietary 3D printed titanium technology.

Norsk Titanium’s 3D printing method is known as Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) and uses wire feedstock to build up near net shape parts that require minor post-machining. Headquartered in Norway, Norsk Titanium has recently expanded its Plattsburgh, New York production facilities as a response to increase in aerospace demand.

With a revenue of $6.8 billion in 2016, Spirit Aerosystems believes Norsk’s RPD process can be incorporated into its own aerospace manufacturing processes. Spirit is a leading manufacturer of aerostructures, primarily producing fuselages, pylons, nacelles and wing components.

One of Norsk Titanium's 3D printed parts. Image via PRNewsfoto/Spirit AeroSystems Inc.
One of Norsk Titanium’s 3D printed parts. Image via PRNewsfoto/Spirit AeroSystems Inc.

Aerospace application

Norsk Titanium’s RPD process has recently found aerospace application of its own with Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Working with Norsk, Boeing’s Dreamliner will be the “first commercial airplane to fly with certified additive-manufactured titanium parts in structural applications.” Norsk’s RPD technology promises product cost reductions of up to 30%, as well as reducing both energy and waste.

Currently, Spirit Aerosystems manufactures a number of structural components for its primary aerospace clients; Boeing and Airbus. Spirit operates with conventional machining processes but is keen to expand and advance its workflow.

According to Spirit, of the thousands of titanium parts it produces, it “expects that at least 30 percent of them could be candidates for the RPD process.”

The first 3D printed, structurally supportive, titanium part to be used on Boeing 787 Dreamliner reached FAA Approval in February 2017 after year in development. Photo via Norsk Titanium
The first 3D printed, structurally supportive, titanium part to be used on Boeing 787 Dreamliner reached FAA Approval in February 2017 after year in development. Photo via Norsk Titanium

Reducing material cost and environmental impact

Spirit and Norsk Titanium have been working together on Rapid Plasma Deposition since 2008 and President & CEO Tom Gentile explains the motivation for this new commercial agreement,

We are pleased to enter into this innovative commercial agreement with Norsk Titanium to fabricate compliant and high-quality parts for our customers.

Gentile believes “reducing our material cost and our environmental impact is a win-win for Spirit, our customers and the communities where we do business.” While Norsk Titanium CEO Warren Boley suggests Spirit will be vital to its recent order from Boeing,

We recently announced becoming the world’s first FAA-approved 3D-printed structural titanium provider and Spirit is the ideal tier-one aerostructures partner to leverage this pioneering capability.

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Featured image shows Norsk Titanium’s rapid plasma deposition. Image via Norsk Titanium. 

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