AM Craft’s order adds to its existing portfolio of four Fortus F450mc 3D printers and will boost production capacity. Following the company’s recent investment, AM Craft is now one of the largest independent aerospace-focused 3D printing service providers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).
AM Craft CEO and Co-founder Jānis Jātnieks explained the impact of using Stratasys’ 3D printing technology: “One of the mainstay pillars that enables us to realize this business case into real-world application is Stratasys’ highly-repeatable FDM based 3D printing technology in conjunction with aerospace-grade materials like ULTEM 9085 resin. It allows us to meet strict rules and regulations around certification that require the highest level of repeatability and traceability with every part manufactured.”
The Stratasys F900 3D printer
Stratasys’ flagship F900 Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) system has been in production for ten years and has undergone three generations of improvement. Based on the foundations on the Fortus 900mc, the F900 is a convenient fit for manufacturers because it supports a wide spectrum of applications. According to Stratasys, the 3D printer’s main features include rapid production, internal cameras, and diverse material selection, lending itself to aerospace, automotive and industrial applications.
Wayne Benson, Director of Manufacturing Product Management at Stratasys described the 3D printer as “the most versatile, reliable, and repeatable on the market today.” It is Stratasys’ largest system and thanks to its elevated oven temperature capacity, the FDM system is capable of printing high-performance thermoplastics. The F900 is also compatible with 14 materials, enabling AM Craft to pursue either basic prototyping with their SA material or high strength printing with the Nylon 12 CF.
F900’s FDM-based technology combined with aerospace-grade materials such as ULTEM 9085 resin, also allows aerospace companies to meet a stringent set of regulations. The flame-retardant, high-performance ULTEM 9085 resin, for example, manages to fulfill the strict flame, smoke, and toxicity (FST) aerospace criteria.
Remodeling aircraft interiors
AM Craft has installed the F900 systems in order to provide certifiable 3D parts for a wider range of aircraft interior applications, such as remodeling passenger planes or cargo shipments. Jānis explained that the printers have driven profits via the implementation of mobile charging stations and Wi-Fi infrastructure, which have “increased customer safety measures and inflight customer service.” AM Craft’s investment will also enhance the already existing hardware line up of four Fortus F450mc 3D printers. Collectively, the aerospace company will now operate with eight FDM-based machines, at its new facility in Riga. The complex, which is dedicated to fulfilling AM Craft’s application requirements, is expected to be fully operational in Q4 2020.
AM Craft’s new systems will enable it to fabricate a new range of aircraft interior components such as aircraft seating, paneling, and ducting. The Stratasys 3D printers will also allow its customers to customize their cabins. According to Yann Rageul, Director of Manufacturing Solutions at Stratasys this will be possible thanks to the “repeatable, cost-effective, low volume manufacturing” offered by Stratasys FDM technology.
One step ahead
Following the F900 3D printer order, Rageul said: “As the COVID-19 pandemic caused the world to re-think supply chain strategies, AM Craft was already a step ahead.” Raguel added that just as Stratasys FDM technology had rapidly adjusted to producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), aerospace companies should also advance their goals for in-cabin customization. “Repeatable, cost-effective, low-volume manufacturing, that’s exactly what AM Craft has invested in with Stratasys,” said Rageul.
Applications of Stratasys’ 3D printing technology
In the industrial sector, the packaging solutions company Marchesini Group S.p.A , is also customizing production through 3D printing. Mirko Fortunati, responsible for Coordinating the Mechanical Workshops explained that “Integrating our industrial-grade FDM 3D printers into our production process has drastically reduced our part lead times from several weeks to a few days.”
Multinational aerospace company BAE Systems, has installed Stratasys F900 systems, and recently purchased its fourth F900 printer. The company believes the printer “plays an important role in this initiative, as it helps us meet our overall company objective to reduce costs and time-to-market.” Elsewhere, automotive manufacturer, General Motors has incorporated 17 Stratasys FDM 3D printers in its operations, elucidating their “speed, weight, reduction and cost-efficiency” as the core advantages.
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Featured image shows AM Craft Co-founders Jānis Jātnieks and Didzis Dejus next to Stratasys F900. Photo via Reinis Inkens.