Spirit AeroSystems receives first Norsk titanium 3D printed part

American aerostructure manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems has confirmed the receipt of its first 3D printed structural component. The first product of an existing partnership between the company and Norwegian-American Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) developer Norsk Titanium, the part has been installed in the forward fuselage of a Boeing 787.

As the sole producer of the nose section of every Boeing airplane in commercial production today, Spirit’s support of RPD technology could be a landmark opportunity for the further integration of 3D printing in aerospace.

The forward fuselage of a Boeing 787 in production at Spirit AeroSystems. Photo by Bill Carey viaq AINOnline
The forward fuselage of a Boeing 787 in production at Spirit AeroSystems. Photo by Bill Carey viaq AINOnline

3D printed structural parts for planes

As of 2019, Spirit’s partnership with Norsk has been ongoing for almost a decade. Together, the companies are working to make RPD additive manufacturing a valuable and fully-integrated part of Spirit’s aerostructure production line, which includes the manufacture of fuselages, pylons, nacelles and wing components.

In July 2017, the partners confirmed their commercial partnership to the public, following the qualification of the first RPD produced part for the 787 Dreamliner in April of the same year.

Then, in July 2018, Norsk confirmed that it had commenced the qualification process for Spirit’s first 3D printed part.

A bed of additive-manufactured titanium components for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo via Norsk Titanium
A bed of the first RPD produced titanium components for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from 2017. Photo via Norsk Titanium

Rapid Plasma Deposition 

Norsk’s RPD technology uses a wire-based feed stock which is melted, layer by layer, within an inert, argon gas environment. To ensure the quality and stability of this process, this melt process is monitored more than 600 times per second.

The first confirmed part Norsk has produced for Spirit is as a back-up fitting for an access door latch. Now part of the entire 787 forward fuselage, the part is scheduled for final assembly at Boeing in January 2019.

“Integrating additive manufacturing capability into our production system to build end-use titanium parts expands Spirit’s fabrication capabilities and puts us at the forefront of advanced manufacturing,” commented Kevin Matthies, Spirit AeroSystems senior vice president of Global Fabrication.

“With our Norsk collaboration, Spirit is bringing the power and benefits of additive manufacturing in support of our customers.”

Nominate Norsk Titanium, Spirit AeroSystems, RPD technology and more standout projects in the 2019 3D Printing Industry Awards.

For regular additive manufacturing aerospace news updates subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Looking for a fresh start in the new year? Visit 3D Printing Jobs to get a head start.

Featured image shows Norsk’s Rapid Plasma Deposition process. Photo via Norsk Titanium.